There's no doubt about it, the best time to plant many shrubs and trees is the autumn, when the soil is still warm and the grand is generally moist from seasonal rain. But what do we do at this time of year, when we've had a spell of dry weather and yet we have bedding and other plants to put into the ground?
Well for me, I have to go back a couple of decades to when I was learning about this very question, without even realising.
Let me tell you more.
My parents front garden is north facing, with a corner bed that stretches along by the waist high garden wall. Before it was the masterpiece it is today, there used to be a grass area there, with some roses and small shrubbery area. My memory of my mum planting a shrub in this area is quite specific. She initially dug the hole about one and a half times the size of the root ball of the plant, added some compost to the base of the hole and the surrounding soil. Next she got yours truly to fill the hole with two large cans of water (for a ten or eleven year old this was as close to gardening as I wanted to get ... Lol) , and once this water soaked into the surrounding area she planted the shrub and gave it another watering to settle it in.
What I know now about this whole planting process, and that I didn't realise way back when, was that the shrub was being planted into soil that was quite dry. The idea of filling the hole with water is to ensure the surrounding area was moist to assist the plant establishing itself. Then once the shrub was planted, she gave it another drink, which I later learned is called 'puddling in'.
So now, as I go to plant my annuals, and other plants, where soil is dry, I follow the same process.
Dig the hole, add compost, fill hole with water, allow to drain away, and plant. finish off by puddling it in.
Do this, and it is likely any bedding will quickly establish itself and put on the strong growth and flowering that we look for at this time of year.