A Campaign for September
Autumn is approaching
and Rosemary Verey has some timely advice to ease the
gardener into that time of mists and mellow fruitfulness
September is the start of autumn, when nature is having
a final fling of beauty before quietening down for winter.
And it is helpful to prepare a programme or campaign
for your autumn activity.
We will be taking cuttings
of our doubtfully hardy and tender favourites, verbenas,
diascias, felicias, argyranthemums and pelargoniums.
Do not forget the violas, rock roses, dianthus and fuchsias
that are useful for infilling after the tulips are over.
Most of our cuttings go on the mist bench, carefully
noted with the name, number and date. If you don’t
have the facilities to create a mist, put these cuttings
in pots with a polythene bag over the top to conserve
cuttings are easy. We have a well-drained shady
bed where cuttings 10-12 inches long are lined out,
with half their length buried. For an extra shrub or
two put these round the parent plant. By late spring
they will have enough roots to move them to their permanent
home. Try ribes, spiraea, privet, rue, honeysuckle,
philadelphus, weigela, hebes and willows.
gathering continues into the September programme.
Gather seeds in paper bags, then transfer them into
sealed envelopes and store them in your fridge. Sow
some now in drills
and watch out for slugs eating the young growth.
We order new
bulbs every August. Some crocuses, both species
and Dutch, scillas and puschkinias and others ring the
changes, and keep up a selection each year. Plant the
hyacinths in September so they are in flower at
Christmas. Paper white narcissus are wonderful for forcing.
Put them on the surface of a flat bowl with a sandy
gravel mixture, keep them in the light, and they will
be in flower in six weeks, sometimes sooner. Plant them
at intervals so you have a succession and can enjoy
their strong scent.
As your bulbs arrive,
if you have ordered them by post, open the packets and
stand them in a cool corner, preferably on a table so
the mice don’t get at them. List them and note
which bed they will go in. Over the years I have tried
to keep each bed to a colour theme, especially for spring.
Bed 1 has white and yellow, bed 2 white and pink, bed
3 stronger pinks with Tulip ‘Mariette’ and
T. ‘China Pink’. Bed 4 has a variety of
tulips in the purple spectrum to go with the hellebores
and honesty. Our tulips are always underplanted with
where necessary allowing some attractive seed heads
to remain. Make sure you have enough mulching
material, leaf mould, mushroom compost and Cocoa Shell
(Sunshine of Africa) to cover the borders as they are
finally put to bed. September is a ‘go-between’
time and you must be restrained but also look ahead.
It is not possible to make a complete clearance in any
border, but we take small areas where the penstemon
or lobelias are past their best, dig and pot them and
keep them in the polytunnel
for next year. Your first tulips and special narcissus
can go in groups in
their place. Remember to label your dahlias before
the frost cuts them down. Eventually, dig and store
them for next year. You can also plan to clip your yew
Greenhouses must have their good autumn clean and disinfectant
before the tender plants are brought in. We use smoke
bombs to get rid of lurking greenfly and red
spider mite. Paint the walls with white distemper
and dowse the floor with Jeyes Fluid. Finally, clean
the glass and mend any cracks.
Get into my favourite
place, the vegetable garden, and enjoy the fruits of
the earth and your summer labour. Earth up celery, leeks
and cardoons. Lift your onions, letting them dry completely
before storing. Harvest your main crop of potatoes.
Pick all squashes and pumpkins and the remaining courgettes
before the frosts get them and watch that special marrow
you are growing for harvest festival. Outdoor tomatoes
must be harvested, bringing unripened fruit indoors
to store in a dark kitchen drawer – keep a daily
watch on them. Sow more lettuces, oriental salads, spinach
greens are important, so fertilize, protect and
keep weed-free your Brussels sprouts, winter- and spring-flowering
broccoli, cabbage, spinach and lettuce. You’ll
enjoy those in winter.
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com