This month’s Head Gardeners’ Tips come from the latest addition to our team, Oswestry Head Gardener Imogen Jackson.
September is a glorious month in the garden – often the weather is still warm, but not too hot, and if you’ve been growing edible crops there should be plenty to harvest, from apples to courgettes. The ornamental garden may well be at its peak, with plenty of late flowering annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses and seed-heads still looking stunning. In Horatio’s Garden Oswestry the stars of the show in September are the Anemone japonica ‘Andrea Atkinson’, ‘Pamina’ Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and Rosa ‘Olivia’. Rainfall usually increases in September, but there’s still plenty of daylight, so make the most of any dry days to get out and enjoy your garden.
Garden jobs this month:
• Take hardwood cuttings from roses.
• Take cuttings from tender perennials such as pelargoniums before the frost hits.
• Lift tender perennials, depending on where you are in the country. Here we will be lifting dahlias and scented pelargoniums.
• Force bulbs such as hyacinths for Christmas.
• Sow hardy annuals such as English Marigolds (Calendula officianalis) and Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascene).
• Plan and plant your spring bulb display.
• Plant garlic and autumn onions (e.g. ‘Red Baron’). We’ve planted walking onions which set bulbils at the top of the stem which then drop down and plant themselves, effectively ‘walking’ around the bed.
• Sow rocket and oriental greens. In the raised beds in Oswestry we have planted a wide range of heritage salad leaves, including such beauties as Really Red Deer Tongue, Devil’s Tongue and Flashy Butter Oak.
It’s also the time, traditionally, to clear up all the plant debris to reduce the chances of pests and diseases surviving the winter. Unfortunately, that also reduces the chances of your pest predators and pollinators surviving also, so it’s important to take a balanced view on this. I remove debris from plants which have shown signs of disease or pest damage, but as far as possible leave the rest. Leaf litter and hollow stems are vital for a whole range of insect life, and as you are undoubtedly aware the insect population is hugely under threat, from pesticides, habitat loss and climate change. Gardens are an essential haven for invertebrates as so much of our landscape is denied to them because of farming practices. Obviously, this also provides birds with plenty to feed from as well, providing not only pleasurable watching and listening for you, but a further natural pest defence at the ready when spring arrives. Hoverfly and ladybird larvae will overwinter in hollow stems and they feed on aphids, thrips and scale insects making them essential partners in your organic gardening.
If you have bare spaces in your veg beds, sow green manures as they will stop nutrients being washed away by winter rains. They may also fix nitrogen and if you dig them in in the spring will return valuable nutrients to your soil. Alternatively, depending on your style of gardening and the crop you choose, you can chop them up fine and leave the worms to do the work for you.
Make sure to take time out to just sit and enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of your outdoor space, whatever its size and style. Happy gardening!
So despite there being a lot to do, enjoyment is still the key to creating a happy gardener!