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September's Seasonal Tips

01/09/2018 08:00

Keep your garden looking its best...

With summer on the wane and autumn just around the corner now is a good time to take stock of your garden. Look round carefully, note your successes and your failures, and plan alterations this month. It’s time to think of ordering those new roses, shrubs, and other plants that you need.

Despite the obvious benefits that container-grown plants have brought gardening, the autumn is still the best time for planting. The soil is still warm and the autumnal rains will get them established before the winter sets in, giving a good start for the next season.

Caring for your indoor plants
Finish taking cuttings of fuchsia, heliotrope, verbena, coleus, argyranthemum and other tender plants, which can be overwintered on frost-free windowsills.

Look out for indoor bulbs such as lachenalia and veltheimia, for autumn planting and daffodils that are prepared for early flowering at Christmas. Start watering dormant cyclamen pot plants which have been left to die down for a rest. Freesia corms can also be planted in pots now for early, fragrant blooms next spring.

Activity in the garden
Add plants for autumn interest
Create a striking feature in your borders by using some plants that look good during the autumn months.

Plan for spring
Plant up patio pots or borders with wallflowers, for a cheery spring show. Although they can be grown on their own, try planting tall-growing tulip bulbs in a contrasting colour first and planting the wallflowers over the top. The tulips will then grow up through them to provide an extra layer of height and colour.

Deadhead roses as the blooms fade, cutting off the flowers just above the uppermost leaf on the stem. Leave those that have developed hips for some extra autumn colour. Trim back lavender bushes after flowering to remove the old blooms and shoot tips, taking care not to cut back too heavily into any old wood. Removing faded flowers from perennials and annual plants will also ensure a continued display of blooms.

Attend to bedding
Give bedding displays, hanging baskets and pots a little attention to ensure their display lasts well into autumn. Pick over plants twice a week to remove any faded blooms, keep watering daily and control pests when you find them. Any tender plants you want to save for next year can also be potted this month, so they are established and ready to bring under cover when the weather turns cooler.

Support perennials
Put plant supports around tall, late-flowering perennials to prevent them from being damaged by autumn winds.

Greenfly checks
Look out for greenfly on winter-flowering pansies and other plants. Treat with a suitable insecticide.

Hardwood stem cuttings
Take stem cuttings of roses in early September by pushing cut stems straight into the soil in a nursery area of the garden, where they can be left to root and develop for about a year. Most types of rose can be propagated from cuttings, especially the rambling types. Just take a length of stem, removing the soft tip above a leaf joint, and cut below a joint at the base, removing all but the top three leaves. Then push the 30cm (12in) cutting into the soil to about half its length.

Fruits & Vegetables
Harvesting crops
Regularly pick crops so that they are always tender and fresh. Never leave crops for too long before picking them, especially beans and courgettes.

Crops to sow
From August to early September the following crops can be sown directly outside:
• lettuce and salad leaves
• Chinese cabbage
• endive
• winter spinach
• turnips for their green tops
• final sowing of spring cabbage

A cloche cover can help speed up germination in colder areas.

Protect late crops of soft fruit
Cover autumn-fruiting raspberries, blackberries and other cane fruits with netting to keep the birds away. Do remember to check the netting daily to ensure that no birds or animals are trapped.

General care and maintenance
Trim hedges
Make sure your plants are well shaded on hot days to prevent scorch. The easiest way to do this is to apply netting or shade paint to the outside of the glass. Scorch is exacerbated if leaves are wet, so take care when watering plants.

Lawn care
Prepare areas of ground for sowing new lawns later in the month.

Collect seeds
Make the most of free seeds produced by perennials and other garden plants by saving them when they are fully ripe. Collect mature seed-heads in paper bags and hang them in a warm place to dry out. The seeds can be cleaned and sorted, then put into labelled envelopes and stored in a cool, dry place. Swap your seeds with your friends to share in each other's successes.

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