September is a wonderful month for gathering the harvest and watching rich autumnal colours develop. With the sultry heat of summer now over, the air feels fresher and you can start to think about shaping your garden for next year by planting new trees, shrubs and perennials. Late September is the best time for planting as the temperatures remain warm but the ground becomes nicely moist with heavy dews.
Move trees and shrubs
Do this now while the soil is relatively warm. If a plant has got to be moved, dig around as far from the base as you can and as deep as possible to take up a large area of root. If it’s a very big shrub you may have to enlist the help of a kind friend. Wrap the roots in hessian or polythene sheeting under the root ball to retain moisture. Tie the sheet up and move the plant to its new location. Dig a hole big enough to take the root ball without having to cram the roots in. Be sure to plant to the same depth as before. Put the plant in the hole, pull the wrapping out from under the roots and gradually fill in the hole. Work the soil right in and gently firm with your boot as you go. Water in well and stake the plant if it’s in an exposed place.
Now is the perfect time to plant bulbs in your garden, before the ground becomes too wet or cold.
There are hardly any areas of a garden that bulbs can’t be planted and they are a very useful addition to a planting scheme. Even if you don’t have a garden they could be put in a pot. You can plant bulbs between shrubs or herbaceous plants, in rock gardens or in the lawn.
A rule of thumb when planting bulbs is to plant each bulb twice as deep as its height. If you are buying from a garden centre most bulbs will come with instruction as to the ideal depth, but it can get a little confusing so I just remember that the bigger the bulb the deeper into the ground it will need to go. This is because the larger the bulb, the larger the eventual growth will be.
Plant container-grown trees and shrubs
Another job to do now while the soil is still warm. This means that the roots can become established before winter sets in and the plants will get off to a flying start in the spring. Because the soil is relatively moist there’s no need to pay much attention to watering, saving you time.
And finally… enjoy the produce of autumn!
There’s no doubt in my mind, English apples are the best in the world and this month they are ready to be enjoyed. If you feel like growing your own, there is space for a tree, even in the smallest of gardens. Trees can be trained as an espalier or fan shape against a fence or wall, if space is at a premium. Or, for a really small space, try growing a step-over apple. As the name suggests, the step-over is a low-growing, horizontally-trained tree that can literally be ‘stepped over’. Step-overs can be planted along an edge of a path or a bed, and make an excellent divider on an allotment or fruit garden.