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By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

Well you have to admit we have had the most wonderful Indian summer; mild sunny days with above average temperatures, but with the first dusting of snow on the Jura this week autumn has most definitely arrived! Flocks of migrating birds, heavy dew in the mornings and a rainbow of coloured leaves encourage us to spend every last productive moment in the garden before the freezing temperatures of winter arrive.

Raking fallen leaves, pruning back the roses, enjoying piping hot, spiced pumpkin soup and planting bulbs and perennials before the soil becomes too heavy to walk on – my ever expanding to do list of things to keep busy with over the next few weeks.

Timely Tips

This time last year I suggested making leafmould compost from all the fallen leaves in the garden. If you managed to do this check your black sacks now and see the results. If you’d like to give it a go this year rake up all the leaves from the lawn and bag them in large black sacks perforated with air holes. Tie up the bags and pop them somewhere out of sight for at least 12 months. If you are storing them in a rain shadow water them occasionally and forget about them until this time next year when you will discover heaps of beneficial leafmould compost - perfect for adding to your beds as mulch.

October is all about pumpkins if you’ve had a successful season now is the time to think about harvesting them. They should sound hollow when tapped. Leave a good amount of now hardened stalk attached and store them in a cool dry cave or garage until you are ready to enjoy them. If you haven’t grown any this year there are plenty of opportunities to see and buy them locally from the supermarkets, who have an ever increasing variety for sale, to some of these local farms: http://www.fermecourtois.ch/46/le-marche in Versoix, http://www.lafermedespralies.ch/joo15/index.php in Arnex sur Nyon, http://www.schilliger.com in Gland, and a little further afield above Lausanne: http://www.1001courges.ch/

Pumpkins are a particularly easy crop to grow, why not try some new varieties this autumn with a thought to planting them at the end of the spring next year.

Continue to clear out the old summer bedding and fallen leaves. If you can resist the temptation don’t completely cut back everything in your borders. It is preferable to leave the dried seed heads of perennial plants like Echinacea to not only provide food for the birds but to create a little interest in the borders, they will look amazing covered with frost and or snow.

Get your bulbs in the ground or into their pots for a spectacular show in the spring - now is the time.

What’s on in November

Vente de Tubercules de Dahlias – 1-2 November, 10:00-16:00 The huge annual dahlia tuber sale organized by the Morges tourism office will be held in the gardens of the Chateau de Morges. Tubers are Chf 5 each and a list of the available varieties is available on the website: http://www.morges-tourisme.ch/fr/floralies-nature/event-dahlias

Les ateliers verts, Conservatoire et Jardins Bontanique de Genève – if you have children from the ages 8-11 who understand French this is an ideal way for them to spend a Wednesday afternoon. There are 17 individual afternoon programmes running from end October to June encouraging discovery and exploration of the plant and animal world: http://www.ville-ge.ch/cjb/accueil_ateliers_verts.php

As we have been so distracted by the warm temperatures it seems the end of year and Christmas preparations have being going on all around in some of our favourite places. Here are a few dates for your dairies:

Schilliger Garden Centre, Gland, Plan-les-Ouates, La Praille - Saturday 1 November sees the official inauguration of their Christmas markets, although they have been open since mid October: http://www.schilliger.com

Vernissage de Noël, R. Jaggi, Trélex - Saturday 15 17:00-21:00 & Sunday 16 16:00-21:00 November, R. Jaggi, Trélex
Possibly one of the most spectacular holiday plant and floral displays of the region, enjoy a glass of hot wine or a drop of soup with the talented team in Trélex: http://www.remyjaggi.ch

Forthcoming course information

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. If you need inspiration to redesign a tired border this morning will be packed with practical advice and inspiring guidance. This course is sponsored by one of the leading perennial growers in the region. We will spend the morning in Trélex (above Nyon) with the team 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.

Pruning Techniques, sponsored by FELCO
Evening course, Monday 3 November, 18:30-22:00, Founex
Although considered to be an essential skill for the amateur gardener pruning can be a daunting undertaking for the uninitiated. Join us and discover how to prune, when to prune and what to use. Get some hands-on experience and sound advice for your own garden from our resident arborist with tools provided by our Swiss sponsor FELCO, the world-leading manufacturer of professional pruning shears and cable cutters since 1945. http://www.felco.com

Redesigning the garden – value for money
Evening course, Monday 17 November, 18:30-22:00, Founex
Designing your own garden or rejuvenating a tired corner may seem like a very expensive exercise but it need not be. Creating a beautiful outdoor space without spending a fortune is not as impossible as you might think. With advice from the experts join us to learn some clever ways to keep the finances under control, where to cut corners and when to invest - put your imagination to work.
I hope you enjoy the remaining sunshine and manage to keep busy in your garden.

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