Enjoy what September has to offer in the garden
Raise your mower blades a notch for the rest of the cutting year
Prunus sargentii is showing the first autumn colours.
September is becoming an increasingly important month in the garden with the seasons shifting themselves along the gobal warming conveyor belt it has become in many aspects a summer month. Every August seems to end giving way to an Indian summer allowing us to use the September garden in a manner more associated with July or August.
With this in mind it is particularly lovely to have a flowering garden to enjoy still while the weather is warm. Many annual plants are still in their full glory and with fortnightly feeding and regular deadheading they will continue to bloom until the first frosts. Patio plants , generally woody sub shrub perennials, like marguerites which can remain evergreen and flower through out the winter intermittently prove invaluable.
Other hardy plants to consider when looking to extend that summer time feeling in your garden include Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' a lovely strong yellow daisy with a pronounced black centre from August through to November in favourable years.
Rudbeckias are not alone in the daisy world in September with Helenium, Asters and Chrysanthemums joining them. Dainty soft plants include Gaura 'Whirling Butterflies, Verbena bonariensis and its shorter cultivar 'Lollipop' and Salvia 'Hotlips' all flowering from mid summer onwards through September and beyond.
Japanese Anemones flourish and flower seemingly forever in sun or shade, Dahlias are exhaustingly still flowering non stop and the wonderful Strobilanthes atropurpureus while hard to find is well worth sourcing and will repay you with indigo blue flowers until the leaves fall from the trees. Add to this summery mix Fuchsia, Ceratostigma, flower carpet roses, Geranium 'Rosanne' and you are well on the way to keeping the summer garden carnival going for at least another month.
But take heed September is not all wine and roses there are pressing jobs to be done. Pruning lavender is very important to do right now to keep your plants compact and extended their lifespan. Evergreen hedges should be clipped to allow them to harden up for winter but leaving them looking neat and tidy at the same time.
Lawns should be checked over for summer damage, wear and tear. Check lawn edges and repair where damaged. Patch up warn areas in the grass with a stiff springbok raking and a sprinkle of grass seed. In areas such as goalmouths or childrens play areas consider returfing or lightly cultivating before resowing. Check for + weeds and moss, treat accordingly. This can be done over the next couple of weeks with a weed, feed and moss killer mix from your garden centre.
Even if you feel that your lawn is in good shape the autumn feeding part of the mix is well worth applying. It contains less nitrogen than the spring feed but a better balance of phosphorus and potassium to strengthen the root system without inducing too much new growth.
In the vegetable garden old spent crops should be pulled up and composted. Vacant areas can be dug over and mulched with farmyard manure or compost. This will encourage worms to the surface to work the soil. Continue to harvest all crops especially runner beans to encourage more flowering. Strawberry runners can be dug up and replanted to replenish your stock. Plant autumn onion sets and garlic. Sow some late lettuce and other winter crops like perpetual spinach and chard. Keep an eye on apples and pear and check for bird damage. Vegetables may not be the only plants cropping in your garden at the moment as there is a second or even third flush of annual weeds occurring, particularly common spurge and shepherds purse. Be vigilant and pull them out before they seed. At this time of year when borders are full these weeds are often hidden or masquerading so be eagle eyed.
Summers almost gone but while we work away we'll enjoy what September has to offer.