Summer has almost slipped away; the sun is lower in the sky and night-time temperatures are cooler.
There is not much change in leaf colour yet; they remain mostly luxuriously green – for now. The Hedgerow berries – Hawthorn, Sloe and Elder ripened quickly last month producing an early wild harvest.
Work in the garden is always governed by the weather and its influences; while there are calm, dry conditions clear away summer annuals that have passed their best and tidy border perennials. Watering is needed as the ground has dried out quickly after limited rainfall through the summer months.
Change window box and containers to seasonal displays; winter Pansies and Violas are available – the flowers come in almost every colour imaginable and these plants will last several months. Or choose the delicate Cyclamens to grow alongside ferns and ivies. Empty any pots not needed for current planting. Soil in containers quickly becomes sour and depleted of nutrients – it can also harbour pests. To ensure healthy growing conditions top up containers regularly through the year with good quality compost.
September is a special month; the weather is usually calm (although blustery winds and rain can suddenly occur). Many summer plants remain alongside the new autumn ones; leaf colour is subtly changing – and this together with harvest time creates the appearance of two seasons within the same month; the tail end of summer and start of autumn.
Plants to enjoy include – autumn crocus, the tiny Cyclamen, giant Sunflowers. In the borders there are summer Roses and seasonal Sedum – the dusky pink flowering ice plant; Japanese anemones, Dahlias and the more unusual Hibiscus. This is a gardener’s favourite – it has about 200 different species which include perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees. H. Rosa sinensis (Rose of China) is a tall evergreen shrub or small tree – it has large flowers in pink, scarlet, yellow or white. H. Syriacus is an upright deciduous shrub reaching three metres. It has more delicate but sizeable flowers in blue, white or cream. Find a space in the garden for a Hibiscus – there is a variety to suit every setting.
The gardening catalogues, with their bargains and dazzling choice of plants, have started to arrive – and so the exciting task of planning for next season’s planting begins once again.