September is the month when leaves develop glorious autumn colours , a reward for gardeners after months of hard work. Foliage colour and late flowers can be really magnificent at this time of the year so relax and enjoy your garden and get visiting local big gardens in the UK such as Forde, Somerset and all RHS and N Trust Gardens . We’ve lots not forgetting Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens along the coast road from Bridport to Weymouth it’s so worth the experience and a good café there.
- Your Local garden centres, are also very worth a visit now to pick up the Daisy (Asteraceae) family tough long flowering perennials, Rudbekias, Japanese anemones purple and white, Asters are superb, so many to look at. There are some new and exciting low growing Sedum (Crassulacea) species to be found as well as the children’s favourites, tall growing large daisy sun flowers, Helianthus, and the bright reds of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’. The latest star in my book is the Kaffir Lily (Schitzostylis of the Iris family. All these flower long into late summer. Kaffir lily has ideal tough rhizome bulbous roots guaranteeing perennial autumn colour year after year.
- It’s probably a good time to have a look at all your plants and it may be useful to take some autumn photos now for future planning as a reminder of what you actually have planted as the weather will completely change in October and many trees and plants will be preparing for plenty of autumnal leaf and flower drop in November.
- Lawns may be greening up again so now is a good time to rake and top dress to revitalise lawn soil. A mixture of 3 parts garden soil 2 parts sharp horticultural sand and 1 part compost ideally but half an inch of garden top soil will suffice. Re-seeding is also ideal at this time. It is a very good time to rake out and tine your lawn to scarify dead grass – there will be much more than you expect. This aerates the soil and grass roots preparing for the autumn rains. Sorry!
- Ponds could have some netting put over before October as leaves start falling. Aquatic plants will need thinning out.
- Trees, shrubs and climbers can be planted or divided and moved at this time while the soil is still warm. Climbers can be hard pruned when the flowers fade – a good time to examine closely for old, dead dying or diseased and important crossing wood and refresh and tidy up the planting site to your requirements for next summer.
- Perennials should be planted now for the roots to be over-wintered, trim roots hard and re pot if new plants are pot bound, soak, and if hardy plant out. Divide over large perennials now – it’s your garden space as well as the plants!
- Think about and order Spring bulbs the RHS website is reasonably priced but have a good look at more bulb selling websites and local garden centre special offers of ‘bags full offers’ of late winter -spring bulbs well worth digging in next month for dare I say it winter, no let’s say new year 2018
- September is the month for light maintenance such as tidying up compost bin areas, cutting back plants and hard pruning shrubs which have just gone over from flowering and for collecting seed. Do check your shrubs before pruning as many such as Spring flowering Forsythia, Magnolia especially and Camellia are now already growing spring buds so just check visually first before you cut!
Do take this opportunity to plan your garden for the coming year and consider any changes you wish to make. A sheet of paper a pencil and a cuppa in some still warm sun will be a good start, so get that thinking cap on perhaps chat it through with a gardener friend, its more revealing and fun and a bit easier. Gardeners World is a must to watch on TV on Fridays for those special extra reminders of things to do.
Tony Arnold MCIHort
Secondary science resource to RHS School Gardening