My other half removed the timers for the watering system and turned off the taps that feed the outside taps. If you have any outside tap that doesn't fully drain (neither of mine do) they should really be wrapped in something like bubble wrap to keep the worst of the freeze out. It can freeze further back than the tap if you have any water trapped in a pipe and that can expand and crack the pipe and next year you'll have a leak. Often they are in the very worst of places and a fiddle to replace/repair.
Cut down dead and dying herbaceous plants. That said, I leave ones that will look good in the frost and snow and those that may feed the birds or make a winter home for good bugs and critters. Basically I hack down the ones that will fall over and become straggly messes.
I threw away my hanging basket and two chimney pot fillers that have done their thing and I will be off to somewhere like Park Farm to find their replacements for the winter.
Climbing roses can take a small hack back to stop them flailing around in any high winds. I do the major trim in Spring. As we are 'in the North' I don't want to risk too much die back from any frost if we get a bad winter. To be truthful I never managed to get this job done in my time in the garden this time, but I will be doing it soon.
I shaped up a couple of olive trees that came out of their pots and went into the border this year. They had put on a lot of growth and I want to keep them almost like topiary balls. So, obeying the maxim 'cut for shape in the autumn and for growth in the Spring' I gave them a trim.
Most of all I was out there to plant a heap of bulbs. B & Q have a pretty good deal on some nice quality bulbs right now so I picked some up on a paint buying trip.
If you do the maths you might figure out that three of each variety meant planting 126 bulbs - doesn't sound much but it was enough for me. I remembered the days I would go out with fair size sackfuls of daffodils to plant..... not any more.
These really are tulips from Amsterdam brought back from a friend's trip there. They have gone in a pot rather than the ground as I don't do very well with tulips here - too wet for them really.
As for the planting - this blog is more about sharing what I've got away with for donkeys' years when gardening, rather than the perfect way to do things.
Ideally (most) bulbs like free draining soil, so you can add sharp sand or grit to the hole plus a little bone meal. The hole should be twice the depth of the bulb. In reality I make the deepest slit I can make with my trowel, wiggle it a bit, push the bulb in (right way up) pull the trowel out and close the slit - job done. It works well enough for me.
So, I need to spend one more day out there, before winter sets in, to hack off some climbing rose stems, check the borders, sprinkle slug pellets absolutely everywhere. I do mean everywhere - they love lurking in nooks and crannies especially over winter; they need to be lured out in hopes of killing a bunch of them. Less to breed in the spring. Reminder: only scatter the amount recommended; more is not better, it actually puts them off because the smell is too much for them. This is a bait after all, so they hunt the bits of food (aka slug pellet) lying around and Goodnight Vienna.
At this time of year people with beautiful lawns aerate them and brush in sand and bone-meal to help the drainage and to strengthen root growth - do NOT feed at this time of year - you'll get soft sappy top growth and basically it will weaken the grass. I skip a couple of these steps but I do scatter some bone meal over the lawn to boost the root growth.
On that cheerful note of snail death and crushed bones - bye for now - time to hunker down and dream of cocoa days ahead.