September in the garden
Author: JM Date Posted:31 August 2018
The glories of Spring come and go all too quickly , and whilst time should be made to enjoy them preparations for summer and autumn also need to get underway.
Whilst we wait for some bulk to return to the garden - all those gaps need filling.
- Any cuttings of shrubby perennials that were taken in the autumn can be potted on this month ready for planting out in a month or so.
- It will soon be time to take many other cuttings in the perennial border so have various sizes of pots scrubbed and filled with propagating mix in readiness.
- If you are a keen propagator September and October are your busiest months with all manner of seeds needing top be sown and potential cuttings clamouring to be taken.
- Don't be too keen to sow seeds of perennials this month. Twenty two to twenty three degrees is the optimum seed-raising temperature, this needs to be a fairly consistent temperature and September temps. are anything but.
- Spring biennials , the likes of Iceland Poppies, Wallflowers, Stocks and Pansies can do with a liquid feed to get them moving as temperatures climb.
- Late Spring annuals could do with a
- Thinning poppies now will help them make individually larger plants which carry more flowers and for longer.
The sense of anticipation can be unbearable as we wait for the bounty of spring flowering shrubs.
- Most of the hard work should have been done by now . If pruning was missed this past winter waiting now until after flowering is the best tack there will be lots to do come November and December
- Don't forget that cutting flowers for the house can be part of the pruning process - it just needs a considered eye as it is being done eg. lifting the canopy of Cornus or Magnolia can be done as they come into flower over the next months and used in the house.
- Remember that any pruning of shrubs that flower this side of Christmas will cause flower loss - to it is best leave this job until after flowering.
- The main thing for hedges over spring is feeding and training.
- New hedges should be trained using the formula of ' two steps forward one step back', or tip prune on a regular basis.
- The rapid growth of lawns for the next month or so means that with mowing there is a lot of goodness being removed - , slow-release or liquid feed lawns towards the end of the month as compensation.
- Scalping the lawn is never a good idea - it only leads to weeds encroaching.
- Little but often is always the best approach with mono-cultures.
- If the lawn does get away a bit bring it down in stages , allowing it to green up between mowing to maintain a healthy sward.
Late-summer wouldn't be quite the same without a parade of Cosmos, Zinnias or Marigolds. They are easy annuals for the unselfconscious gardener - the embodiment of fun.
- Whilst some may be a bit sniffy about them - it is the manner in which they are combined that can either exalt or demean them. - choosing varieties that aren't all necessarily 'Best in Show' will create a more refined effect. Divas always need a supporting cast to look their best and in the garden a retinue of smaller flowers used to enhance a few show-offs is a tried and true approach.
- For those who still appreciate the naïve charm of pansies and violas in spring, assiduously dead-heading them brings its reward in continuous flowering until the worst of the summer heat.
- Biennials such as Wallflowers, English Daisies and For-get-me-not will be getting a go on this month- a liquid feed will keep them bulking up.
- Paging through catalogues dreaming up flower schemes for summer is this month's pleasure - all should be in readiness for the 'sow-a-thon' of late October and early November.
- Many tens of thousands of tomato plants are lost each year because of premature sowing or planting out. The lesson here is be patient and not to jump the gun.when sowing seed for summer. Young seedlings will bound away without check if and when temperatures are to their liking and only sulk or worse when they are not.
The rewards for forethought will be obvious this month -potted bounty everywhere , but what of the months to come?
- Pots of Lily of the Valley are showing through the soil - move to a warm sheltered position where they can be enjoyed close-at-hand next month.
- Pans of Iris reticulata have been a joy these passed weeks - they now need to rest in a full-sun spot awaiting re-potting in summer.
- Pots of Sarcococca confusa or ruscifolia can be bought into the house this month to cast their fragrance about - they are quite good house plants for a month or so.
- Scented geraniums held inside over winter should be re-potted this month in readiness for a growth spurt.
- Pots of Freesia will be active by now and should be held in a frost free position or cold greenhouse. 5 Degrees C is the magic number any lower and they resent it.
- Cuttings of scented Geranium taken last autumn should be potted up this month to get the best plants possible.
One of the biggest issues of having a cutting garden is all that extra soil to keep weed free.
- Mulched beds will need turning over this month to give them time to break down a bit more before planting in October and November.
- Many crops can be grown using weed-mat under them. The secret is to burn holes ( using a gas-torch and template) at regular intervals through which you can plant your seedlings. It can be re-used endless times. N.B. Drip irrigation should be laid underneath the mat at 30cm spacings.
- In areas which continue to receive frost until November , Anemones and Ranunculus can be protected with 'worm cloches' from now on in to ensure perfect blooms.
- Shrubs flowering this month which make useful cut-flowers are Chaenomeles ( Flowering Quince) , Almond and Peach ( if you don't mind the mess) Sarcococca , Daphne, and Magnolia.
- If your stored Dahlia crowns are looking a little dehydrated, lay them in boxes of 'just damp' sawdust to plump them up a bit before splitting.
- Ordering seed of tender annuals, if not already complete, is one of this month's pleasures.
- One flower that needs an early start is Cobaea scandens -start on heat indoors to ensure plenty of flowers in late-summer.
- Cuttings of scented Geranium can be potted on in readiness for planting out next month.
Have the following at the ready for spring jobs
- Potting mix
- Lime, Iron-sulphate, Potassium-sulphate,
- Blood and Bone
- Sphagnum moss
- Snail bait
- Stakes and twigs of all sizes
- Twisties , string and Jolly Roger soft tie.
- Netting for climbers, ( Sweetpeas , Ipomaea, Cobaea, )
- Tenax netting as support in the cutting garden
- Bamboo canes in various sizes
- Copper-sulphate to deal with mossy lawns
- Slow release fertilizer.
For most of us , summer is all about irrigation and any neglect of its infrastructure becomes obvious only too quickly as the weather hots up.
- Clean filters and remove nozzles . Flush lines whilst they are removed .
- Have plenty of 'goof plugs' and connectors at the ready - an errant garden fork can turn into a flood just when you don't need it.
- The mower man will be busy with everyone else's equipment - there's nothing for it other than to get in the queue.
- As the weather warms so compost bins become more active - a fair bit of break-down of autumn and winter's additions will have taken place so jump on top and trample it down a bit to speed things up. Cover with old compost and a bit of lime to keep things sweet and start the new bin.
- I always think separation of bins according to the season sensible - we have started our spring-summer one which we will empty next spring this past autumn/ winter one will be emptied this coming autumn.
- Keeping a balance of fine and coarse ingredients is still important at every time of year - make sure plenty of air gets into the heap.