Gardening Column: September

The end of summer, for many, often signifies the end of our enjoyable time in the garden and just a list of jobs to be done before winter sets in.

Poor garden planning often means that by the beginning of September our gardens are devoid of any colour or points of interest. The bedding plants are looking scruffy and many of the early flowering perennials and shrubs are way past their best; this is the danger of being enticed by the gorgeous plants offered in the garden centres in early spring, which usually means that by the end of June, all that money spent has now given us very green and possibly dull looking borders. But, careful planning and long term vision, without succumbing to the lure of the March garden centres, can give us gardens that look beautiful for most of the year.

There are a surprising number of plants, vegetables and fruit trees that look at their best in autumn and winter; we also mustn’t forget to include some of the shrubs and small trees whose leaves turn a glorious orange colour.

Here is a small selection of the lovely colours in my garden which are still in flower:

Apart from enjoying the beautiful colours bathed in warmth of the September sun, here are a few jobs that should be done now to ensure another successful year:

  • Plant bulbs for spring colour. Remember the ‘depth’ guide – three times the size of the bulb.
  • Plant bare root ornamental trees and shrubs.
  • Autumn is the ideal time to plant Clematis.
  • Move trees and shrubs, and plant hedges.
  • Take hardwood cuttings.
  • Prune climbing and rambling roses and tie in the stems to prevent wind damage.
  • When mowing the lawn, shred any leaves to add to the compost.
  • Divide overcrowded perennials whilst the soil is still warm.
  • In the vegetable plot, start preparing the site where beans will grow by digging trenches and filling with kitchen waste.
  • Plant autumn garlic bulbs and onion sets.
  • Now is the perfect time to plant up strawberry runners for cropping next year.
  • Remove any diseased fruits from branches or the ground to prevent infection next year.
  • Some pot plants are still growing, so don’t forget to water in dry weather.
  • Give evergreen hedges a final trim before winter sets in.
  • “Take stock of this year’s garden and make a few notes or sketches for next spring – a digital camera has become an invaluable garden companion – taking snapshots of where herbaceous plants are located before they die back so you don’t damage their roots during a winter dig, capturing images of borders you’d like to replicate at home or simply just a memory jog so you remember which areas of the garden look like they need improving. Why not keep a photo diary of your garden with pictures taken each week? Reflect on what grew well, what failed miserably, and what changes you will make next year. You will be surprised at how useful these notes can be when you start ordering seeds and plants for next year!” (Thomson & Morgan)

Finally, go for a walk in the autumn sunshine and enjoy the glorious colours; there is nothing like it to lift the spirits before the dark days of winter.

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