Blog | September in the Garden
September is a bountiful month…fruit ripening, late summer perennials flowering, and seed pods bursting.
This year, we’ve been blessed with a bumper crop of apples from our espalier-trained trees in the new orchard within the Old Kitchen Garden. The variety ‘Winter Gem’ performed particularly well. ‘Winter Gem’ is an excellent eating apple with a rich flavour reminiscent of it’s famous parent variety ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’. The apples are firm, crisp, aromatic and tasty, with a good balance of sugar and acidity. Blackberries, raspberries, and plums, were also abundant this season.
Our borders host a number of late flowering herbaceous perennials such as Sedum, Kalimeris, and Salvia, offering a welcome last hurrah before being cut down by autumnal frosts. In addition to flowers there are a number of very decorative seed-heads in the garden right now. Not only are these decorative, but they are also of course a source of free seed. It’s well worth taking a bundle of paper bags into the garden and collecting seed from dried seed-heads for sowing in spring. Once collected, lay the seed out on paper in a warm place for any dampness to evaporate away, when dry they can be placed in a paper bag and labelled with the plants name, store these bags in a cool and dry place to keep them viable until sowing in spring. Here at Deene Park we allow a great deal of self-seeding in our Long Borders. By allowing plants to go to seed, and simply scattering those seed around the borders, a very free flowing and relaxed feel to the borders is created where self-sown plants spring up between clump forming herbaceous perennials and deciduous shrubs.
Collecting your own seed and growing new plants from them is very rewarding, and indicative of how forward planning is so important in gardening. Although days are shortening and frosts are not far away, September is a time to be thinking of and preparing for the growing season next year…for perusing the seed and bulb catalogues for those must have additions to the garden. We have already taken delivery of our seed and bulb orders here at Deene Park. The seed are safely stored away for sowing in spring, but bulbs need to be planted right away.
Ideally, spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, hyacinths, and crocus, should be planted by the end of September, tulips can wait until November. The general rule of thumb is to plant bulbs at about three times their own depth (for example, if a bulb is 5cm from base to tip, then plant it at a depth of 15cm). Ensure that the nose or growing tip is placed upwards with flatter base down…with some bulbs it’s not very easy to tell the difference, in that case plant them on their side! If the soil in which they are planted is damp already then there is no need to water, otherwise give them a good drink to settle them in. The best display is attained from bulbs with mass planting, so the more the merrier is order of the day.
Again, looking forward to next year, September is a good time to take pelargonium cuttings, ensuring fresh young plants for next summer’s display. Strong, non-flowering shoots, roughly 4” in length, are ideal. Remove lower leaves and stipules (small leaf-like appendages at the base of each leaf stalk), and make a clean cut just below a leaf joint. Place a number of cuttings around the edge of a small plastic pot and water well. To retain good levels of humidity, it’s good practice to place the pot within a sealed, clear plastic bag, in a bright spot such as a windowsill in a warm room.
Keep a close eye on your cutting to ensure that the compost remains moist, if there are signs of leaves dying or rotting inside the bag these must be removed immediately. Pelargonium cuttings are keen to root and will usually have done so within four to six weeks, at which point they will be ready to pot-up and grow on for use in the house of garden next year.