After the frenzied activity of the summer period, September is the perfect month to take stock of the flower and vegetable garden, whilst starting to make plans for the coming spring. Soils warm from the summer season are perfect for establishing new plantings and the arrival of spring bulbs inspire new ideas for the coming seasons.
Tubs and baskets
Continue to dead-head, water and feed summer planting in tubs and baskets to prolong the display for a couple more weeks.
Tired and spent planting can now be replaced with fresh topical ranges to provide colour throughout the autumn and winter season. Pansies, Violas and Wallflowers are traditional favourites that can also be planted with hardy tub and basket plants and spring bulbs for a display to brighten the dullest of winter days.
Remember to refresh the compost, now exhausted from the summer season.
Spring flowering bulbs
Deliveries of new season spring flowering bulb collections are now in store to include inspirational colour mixes as well as tried and trusted traditional favourites.
As gaps appear in beds and borders, now is the ideal time to plant bulbs such as Crocuses, Daffodils, Narcissi and Snowdrops.
Dwarf Narcissi and Crocus also look great with winter bedding in patio pots and hanging baskets for a cheerful splash of early spring colour.
Daffodils benefit from planting in September, while Tulips can wait a little longer, even into November. Be sure to buy early though to get the widest choice.
Indoor bulbs such as prepared hyacinths can also be planted now in bowls and wicker baskets, specially treated so that they flower at Christmas time.
Introduce winter structure to the garden with evergreen shrubs such as Viburnum tinus or Skimmia, the latter planted in a pot near your front door to appreciate its flower and spring fragrance.
Fiery shades of early autumn foliage start to light up late summer borders. Shrubs such as Acers (Japanese Maples), Cotinus (Smoke Bush) or climbers such as Parthenocissus (Virginia creeper) come into their own now.
Visit your local store to see all the new ranges freshly delivered and ready for planting now. Give Azaleas, Rhododendrons and particularly Camellias a good drink of water now to ensure they set plenty of buds for spring.
Dead head Dahlias to encourage further flowering until the first frosts.
Remove faded blooms on Cottage Garden Perennials to extend the flowering season.
Dead head Roses to encourage a late season flush and tie in whippy growths on rambling roses to bear next year’s trusses of flowers.
As gaps appear in beds and borders, sow hardy annuals such as Nigella (love in the mist) and Centaurea (Cornflowers) to bloom in spring.
Plant new perennial plants now while the soil is still warm to enable them to establish a strong root system during the winter months in readiness for spring.
Plant biennial Sweet Scented Stocks (Matthiola) and statuesque Foxgloves now to fill your borders colour and fragrance next spring.
Salads & vegetables
Harvest crops of Garlic, onions and shallots as tops start to yellow and topple over. Leave to dry in a cool shed before storing away in breathable drawstring bags for the winter months or have a go at plaiting your garlic and onions together to make a traditional string to hang in your kitchen or larder.
Give Tomato plants as much sunshine as possible to ripen trusses of fruit.
Keep picking courgettes when they are young and tender to encourage yet more to follow.
Continue to water squash and pumpkins as they ripen under the late summer sun.
Rocket and winter salad leaves can be sown now if not done so already, as well as a last sowing of quick growing radishes.
Coriander grows well from a sowing now that the intense summer heat has passed.
Swiss Chard sown now will make strong plants for tasty winter pickings. The striking stem and foliage colours look great in both the garden and on the plate!
Winter Spinach can be sown now and is less likely to bolt with the cooler temperatures.
Sow Broad Beans and hardy peas for the earliest tender spring pickings.
Apples should be ripening now. Check that they are by gently cupping the fruit in your hand whilst carefully twisting the stem. If it is ready it will come away with ease. Do the same with Plums to avoid fruits falling and bruising on the ground.
Excess Apples can be stored in a cool shed for the winter. Space Apples on a slatted shelf to keep them cool and aerated. Make sure they are not touching to prevent any spread of disease.
Cut back spent summer fruiting raspberry canes to the ground, tying in the new whips for next year’s crop as you go.
Net late summer / autumn Raspberry canes to prevent bird damage.
Pot up Strawberry runners for fruiting next summer.
September is the ideal month to give your lawn some attention that will ensure that it goes into the winter strong and healthy ready to look its best next spring.
Most lawns benefit from being aerated every year to reduce compaction after the pounding it has taken during the summer months. The easiest way to do this is to use a garden fork, pushed six inches into the lawn at regular intervals.
Apply autumn feed to boost your lawn ready for the coming winter.
Any bare patches can be repaired with lawn seed or larger areas with rolls of turf.
September is the ideal time to establish a new lawn, the rains of autumn helping to settle in the new lawn ready for winter.