Tips for Enjoying the Garden in September
September days are to be savoured. I find the richness of colour combined with the more slanting sunlight creates the best photographic opportunity in a mature garden. If you’ve managed to keep up with the deadheading, all the tender annual plants will still be filling your garden with bright, strong colour. Long, warm days are coming to an end for another year and should therefore be relished and appreciated all the more.
Dahlias continue to flower exotically. Take off faded flower heads to extend the season through to the first frosts. Cut back to the next side shoot to stimulate new flowers to grow.
Now is an excellent time to buy or make a compost bin for all the autumn debris. You can then look forward to adding all that organic matter to the borders to maintain the garden in good heart. Growing plants intensively, as we tend to do, means that a lot of goodness is taken out of the earth in a relatively small area. It is therefore essential to put something back in order to get the best out of the plants. Making your own compost is an ideal way of doing this. Although there are plenty of bins to buy, I have always found that the best ones are the homemade variety. Remember to use a good mix of different materials to make the best compost. If you grow your own vegetables those alone will generate plenty of material. Don’t use woody stems or diseased leaves, as your compost bin probably won’t get to a high enough temperature to break these down.
Lawns require less frequent mowing now and once you have mowed it, trim the edges. This makes a huge difference to the overall appearance of your lawn and is very simple to do. Use a pair of lawn-edging shears to cut away any long grass that is beginning to encroach into the borders. Ideally you should do this after every mowing but at this time of year, once done, it should stay looking neat and tidy for the colder months ahead.
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.