August was a very British mixture of sunshine and showers but we really can’t complain about the summer we’ve had. The hot sunny days interspersed with rain have been perfect for our gardens. As a result, most of our plants are thriving and should hopefully keep our gardens looking good into autumn. There are so many late summer perennials which will continue to provide fantastic colour for a good few weeks yet, including Helenium, Aster, Crocosmia and Japanese Anemone.
September is a lovely month in the garden. Although many of the flowers may be starting to fade, the gorgeous colours of autumn are waiting to take centre stage. And autumn is the perfect time to add new plants to your garden – the soil is still warm and plants have time to establish before winter sets in. So, if you’ve noticed gaps in your borders or felt that some months your garden lacked colour, then now is the time to do something about it. Trees, shrubs and perennials can all be added now and will be raring to go by next spring.
Whatever else you do, don’t forget to plant your spring bulbs. No garden should be without the cheerful colour provided by this wonderfully versatile range of plants. In pots on your patio, in beds and borders or even in your lawn, spring bulbs can be used anywhere in the garden. It is so worth making the effort now because there’s nothing like seeing those green shoots pushing up through the frosty ground in the middle of winter to tell you that spring is on its way.
Moving on to the vegetable garden, there should be lots of crops to harvest this month but there’s planting to be done too. Garlic, shallots and Japanese onions can all be planted now, along with ready sown pack vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. It’s also a good time to plant strawberries as they, too, will establish themselves before winter sets in and give an earlier and more productive yield than those planted in spring.
If you haven’t had any fruit to harvest, take advantage of the perfect conditions and plant a fruit tree or two. Some fruit tree varieties are self-fertile, others will need a second tree to cross pollinate. In built up areas, there will usually be trees close enough to provide pollen but if you live in a rural area you may well need to plant a second tree – ask in the Garden Centre for advice.
There are routine jobs to be done in September too. Your lawn, for example, might need some care this month. Poor growth or moss can be helped by scarifying and aerating, and then applying an autumn feed, weed and moss killer. It’s also a good time to apply a mulch to your borders, one of the best things you can do for your garden. A 5cm layer of organic matter added to your borders, around your shrubs and perennials, will feed the soil, help keep weeds down and hold in moisture, cutting down labour for you and benefiting your plants. There are several different mulches available – bark chips, farmyard manure, compost – and you can always ask which is most suitable for your garden.
This month may also see your hanging baskets and pots looking a little forlorn as summer bedding plants slowly start to fade. If this is the case there are many alternatives such as dwarf conifers and dwarf evergreen shrubs such as Euphorbia and Euonymus which can be planted to bring them back to life. Team them with winter flowering heathers (Ericas), Cyclamen and Violas to add some colour. Lovely!