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By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

You have to love September for the still warm sun shining in the hazy blue sky of early autumn providing the most perfect soft light for admiring the changing colours of plants. The sound of gardeners out with their hedge trimmers and the sight of birds devouring the tiny but pesky caterpillars on our roses – such an end of summer feeling. May we be so lucky in October.

Timely Tips

If ever you thought the autumn was a time to relax before the snow fall of winter, be prepared for a long list of things to do this month. The question is where to start: give the lawn a little tlc (scarify, aerate, top dress and reseed until the first frost); remove all the summer bedding (difficult to do when the flowers keep coming but very unpleasant once the rain starts and they begin to rot!), plant new perennials, think about planting a fruit tree; give the hedges their final trim; plant bulbs in borders, lawns, pots and containers (available everywhere now and already on sale in some places), finally clear the vegetable plot and consider planting a green manure. As I said it is a very busy time.

If you are wondering where to start why not begin with something sweet: apples. There are a tremendous number of apple growers in this area. Make a visit to a local farm or market and enjoy the large variety of apples not usually available in the supermarket. Speak with the growers and get their advice on what does well in your locality, taste them, buy some, enjoy them. Consider planting a small tree at home or just go back and buy some more apples to enjoy from the grower but do try the many different varieties – there is so much more to apples than galas!
Something to consider with fruit trees is their need of pollination partners, some trees are self fertile others need one or more trees for pollination, check with the farmer or specialist grower before you invest.
Autumn is the perfect time to plant something new. The soil (especially clay on which so many of us garden) remains warm allowing new trees, shrubs and perennials time to establish tiny new roots before the winter which will give them a head start come next spring.
From garden centres to supermarkets it is impossible to escape the huge number of bulbs available at the moment. Choose wisely. Only buy firm bulbs, soft bulbs will rot in the ground and never produce flower. Check the printed information for the final height of the flower along with the expected flowering time and with a little planning you could have a non-stop flowering pot until May. Now that is worth all the planning.

What’s on in October

  • JardiTroc conférence sur le thème du compostage - Thursday 16 October, 19:00, 1 chemin de la Charrue, 1218 Le Grand-Saconnex http://jarditroc.ch/wp/

    Jardi’Troc is a Grand-Saconnex based member organization, which brings together amateur gardeners for a series of organized events during the year including garden visits and lectures, and organizes its well-known annual Troc des plantes in April. This French-language evening presentation will be made by Didier Jotterand, biologist, Uni Genève and EPFL, one of the three founding members of the Proxicompost association http://www.proxicompost.ch/
  • Je suis au jardins – Friday 10 October 09:00-21:00 at the Founex Tennis Club. Marie will run a small sale of garden themed gifts for the discerning shopper, always worth a visit.

Forthcoming course information

We have decided to increase the number of evening courses this year on a trial basis. We hope this will enable even more of you to participate. As always we very much appreciate your feedback.

The next two courses in October are:

  • Beyond Daffodils
    Morning course, Thursday 30 October, 09:00-13:00, R. Jaggi Nursery, Trélex
    We are tremendously excited to announce this new course on integrating perennials and unusual bulbs to the garden. This course is sponsored by one of the leading perennial growers in the region. We will spend the morning in Trélex (above Nyon) at the R. Jaggi Nursery where students will be immersed in a sea of inspirational plants. Full details and inscriptions are now on the website.

Author's bio


An enthusiastic, self-taught gardener, Tara Lissner is passionate about gardening and eager to share her zeal and knowledge with other gardening fans.

In 2012, she joined forces with Hester Macdonald, a British-trained landscape designer, to launch the Swiss Gardening School.

(Photo by Jean-Luc Pasquier)

Swiss Gardening School