September is the time to start thinking ahead to next year’s garden.
We never know how soon frost might come – we may have many more weeks before the temperatures dip below zero, but it could come far quicker than that.
When you have tender perennials in the garden, there is a bit of a game of chicken to play: how long should you wait before protecting plants against frost, or bringing them in for the winter?
As long as the frost stays away though, there’s still much to enjoy in the September garden. Whilst some plants are starting to look past their best, others, like dahlias, can put on their best display at this time of year. Deadheading is likely to take up much more of your time, but is so worth it to prolong the colour in the garden.
Here are some of the jobs you can be doing in your garden this month:
Begin collecting seeds and taking cuttings
Your garden may be fading as the year comes to an end, but there is still so much potential. Collect seeds from plants such as nasturtiums and poppies, and you’ll have a head start on next year. As you consider how you’ll overwinter tender perennials why not think about taking some cuttings, too? This can be done relatively easily from fuchsias, roses, salvias and even geraniums / pelargoniums – this is a great video by Monty Don to explain how you do this.
Tackle your garden foes
At this time of year, using nematodes to control some of the pests which have become problematic in the garden can be a great idea.
You can use this chemical free, environmentally friendly pest-control method now and it can help control the numbers of slugs, vine weevils, daddy long legs & more that appear in your garden next year. You simply mix the nematodes with water and apply to the garden – I order ours from www.greengardener.co.uk
In its first year, the garden in our Lowton new-build was overwhelmed with slugs – literally thousands of them. We used nematodes in year 2 to control them, applying them periodically throughout the year. I must admit, we were doubtful as to what difference it was making, because those little guys just kept showing up. But this year, year 3, we’ve had far fewer slugs – although we’ve noticed that as the year has gone on some really big fat ones have arrived in the garden. I suspect that applying nematodes late in the season last year prevented the laying of lots of eggs – and may have led to the reduction in slugs in the garden this year. We haven’t used nematodes in the garden at all so far this year, but I plan to do an application this month, before the soil gets too cold, in order to keep their numbers under control next year.
I’ll also be doing a preventative treatment of the lawn for leatherjackets (daddy long legs larvae). I know several neighbours have had their lawns destroyed by these little blighters, who eat the lawn as they hatch. I’ve spotted a lot of daddy long legs on our lawn lately, and a few patches beginning to appear, so have decided to take action before it’s too late!
Another issue I have in the garden this year is black spot on my lovely roses. I plan to take a few cuttings and then cut them right back. If your roses are showing signs of black spot, make sure you remove all the affected leaves and destroy them (don’t add them to your compost).
Start planting for autumn, winter and spring
I love planting bulbs for spring – and September is the month to get started. I’ll be planning a mixture of new bulbs (I really like Wilko for spring bulbs) and also some of the daffodil, hyacinth, crocus and iris bulbs I saved from last year. On top of that, this year I’ll be adding more alliums, yet more muscari, some Anemone De Caens and I’m also going to give some bluebells a go from bulbs. However, don’t plant tulips yet – it’s best to wait until November.
This is also a good time to start creating some autumn / winter containers. I picked up some heathers from Lidl the other week and they make a good inclusion in a planter. I have some wallflowers I’ve grown from seed – I also picked up some trays of rather sad looking violas from Lidl – but I’m confident they’ll be easy enough to revive with a bit of TLC. You can also add colour with plants like cyclamen, heucheras and primoses and add some early spring bulbs to add additional interest early next year with dwarf daffodils, iris and crocuses.
This month I’m also going to plant up some prepared hyacinth bulbs for indoors – not sure if we’ll get the timing right but it could mean some lovely scented flowers for Christmas, fingers crossed!
Prepare for colder days ahead
As I mentioned in the intro, we’ll have to play this one by ear. We may get a glorious warm September, in which case you can hang on before beginning to protect plants from frost. But as we’ve already had something like the coldest Autumn Bank Holiday on record, we probably need to be prepared!
If you have the space – in a greenhouse or a conservatory – you can bring tender potted plants in. Otherwise you’ll need to think about covering them with fleece or a covering of mulch to protect them over winter. Unfortunately we don’t have a glass greenhouse or a conservatory – so we’ll do our best in an unheated mini-greenhouse, with plants wrapped in fleece. I’m hoping not to have to do this for a few weeks yet.
If you let your houseplants spend some time outside in August, make sure you bring them back in now. You can also bring herbs like parsley, chives and mint indoors to keep on your kitchen windowsill to enjoy fresh herbs for longer.
If you’re growing tomatoes, before the weather turns cold cut off any remaining unripe trusses and bring them indoors to ripen up.
Once the first frosts have come, I’ll be digging up my dahlias and storing the tubers over winter – but I am happy to wait until frost comes before I do this – so will include more detail about how to do it in my October update.
Plan ahead for next year’s garden
As it becomes increasingly obvious that the year is coming to an end, it’s a good time to reflect on what’s worked well in your garden this year, what hasn’t, and what you’d like to do differently next year. For example, I’m really happy this year with how the border at the bottom of our garden has turned out – the spaces I moved my tall Showpiece Dahlias to this year really worked well and the alliums were fantastic. I’ve loved my cosmos again – but next year want to plant them into the borders directly rather than in tubs, where I feel they’ve struggled a little. And I really need to put some thought into my side border which hasn’t quite hit the spot this year – some more plants needed!
Make a note of the lessons you’ve learnt this year – it’ll give you a valuable head start on next year.
In need of some help in your garden?
Check out the local gardening companies we have listed in our Lowton and Golborne Directory if you need help in the garden – from mowing the lawn to total landscaping projects.
About the author:
My name is Gemma. I’m the editor of Lowton & Golborne News and a very keen but amateur gardener. I mainly enjoy growing flowers in my small garden in Lowton, but this year, for the first time, I’ve been growing veggies too – all in containers. You can follow my garden on Instagram @gandtgarden.
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