Lovely September is welcomed in with a bit of Indian Summer we hope! The weather has been a bit up and down lately (Devonians are famous for their understatement!), but I hope that everyone is now reaping the rewards of a fruitful season in the garden. We had rather a glut of courgettes this year, so I had to be rather creative on the soup front! However, it’s always exciting trying to come up with new recipes and combinations of flavours.

This year September heralds a Significant Birthday for me, and it rather made me think back along the years, remembering family members now long gone, but who contributed so much to my life and how I am now who I am. My four grandparents were always very important, all imparting their skills and knowledge, always glad to share their love of the countryside and their time for a lanky girl. I remember coming home nearly always covered in some sort of muddy coating, as my legs were always a very long way from my brains! I must have been a real headache on the washing front as we only had a big tub with a mangle on the top. Close my eyes and I can hear the ‘thump, thump’ of the paddles, and see Mum pulling out the washing with huge wooden tongs.

My dear Mama, thankfully still very much with us, instilled a love of gardening especially for herbaceous perennials. She was very patient, teaching me and my sister all the names, and helping us with the Latin! But, it must have been in the genes as now my daughter has taken up the mantle and is a gardener with the National Trust.

Mum also introduced me to the following poem by W. H. Davies, which says it all really. Whenever I read it I can see my Grandad leaning on a gate, and just looking at the horizon. I have only included part of it here; why not search out the rest yourself:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

Plant of the month

September is a great month for late-flowering perennials …

Japanese anemones are always a favourite. Tall and bold, their simple flowers in shades from pink to white really celebrate the season. They’re adaptable too, growing in sites from full sun to partial shade. There are some fantastic new varieties that have deep pink semi-double flowers which bring a vibrancy to a September garden.

Commonly called Ice Plants, the thick fleshy foliage of sedum varieties add interest throughout the year, from the moment it develops in spring. Varieties are available with foliage colours from green to grey and deep purple, and some with variegated green and white leaves look particularly impressive grown individually in small terracotta pots. Their flowers come in eye-catching colours from pure white to pink and red, proving as attractive to us as they are bees and butterflies. They are a valuable feed source too at this time of year.

Michaelmas Day is celebrated on 29 September and lends its name to one of the most valuable hardy perennials to flower through September and October, the Michaelmas Daisies. Many are varieties of the New York aster, Aster novi-belgii, but several other types of aster are available also. A succession of blooms gives asters long-lasting appeal, and they make great cut flowers too.

Why not try some in your garden …

Don’t forget our knife and tool sharpening service will take place again on September 5th. Drop your items into the shop any time beforehand, and pay on collection. Prices start from £1.50 for straight-edged knives to £5.95 for mower blades and axes. For more information please give us a call at the shop

Things to do in September?

  • Start planting new trees, shrubs and climbers
  • Stop feeding trees and shrubs in containers
  • Feed camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas with a high potash feed for a better display next year.
  • Clear out summer bedding plants
  • Why not try taking cuttings of pansies and violas?  They are easy to do and at the same time it will encourage more basal growth in the parent plant and help it keep a better shape and prolong the flowering period.
  • If you haven’t already done it, trim back the old flowers of lavender.  A regular trim (rather than a prune) will keep the plants in good shape and prevent them going too ‘leggy’ – never cut low into old wood.
  • Start planting new perennials
  • Start dividing overgrown perennials
  • Support tall, later-flowering perennials
  • Daffodils and crocus should be planted at the earliest opportunity.  Tulips can be left until later
  • Plant out spring-flowering biennials
  • September can be a busy time in the garden – both vegetable and flower.  If you want to save some seeds from some of your favourite plants, now is the time to do it if the pods are ripe.  Choose a dry period to cut the pods and then store them in paper bags until the seed naturally falls from the pod. Remember to label the bag!
  • Plant up containers with spring bedding
  • If you are a dahlia grower, keep them well watered and fed and don’t forget to deadhead old flowers from stems that haven’t been cut for the home.
  • If you have an earwig problem there are two things you can do.  1) Stuff a 9cm (3 1/2″) flowerpot with straw or hay and place this upside down on a stake or cane.  The earwigs will inhabit this overnight and can then be removed the next morning.  2) Smear some washing-up liquid on the stem below the flower/bud.

This is your last chance to…

  • Force hyacinths for Christmas
  • Plant Autumn onion sets
  • Sow Spring cabbages
  • Plant new strawberry plants

Get in front….

  • Sow hardy annuals to flower next year
  • Dig over heavy clay soil before Autumn rains make it less workable. It may be beneficial to sow a green manure to overwinter your plot, or consider covering with old carpet or recycled black plastic to keep the weeds down. Your soil will also warm up more quickly in the spring.