Cure yourself of the post-summer holiday blues with a spot of gardening this September. Autumn has so much to offer and really is the “season of mellow fruitfulness”, with bright berries, delicious fruits, and pretty flowers guaranteed to cheer you up. And if your beds and borders are looking past their best, why not brighten things up with some new pots, ornaments (see ACHICA for fantastic buys this week), blooms and bulbs and dress up your garden, and take a look at our tips for planting inspiration.
Bring on the flowers
Keep your borders going till October with a range of autumn flowers. The best of the bunch include asters – in particular Aster ‘Little Carlow’ (above), which is covered with starry blue flowers for many weeks –the bright yellow daisy-like blooms of rudbeckias, and sedums. All need a sunny site to deliver the best show.
Weave in beautiful berries
The prima donnas of the autumn garden, berried plants offer jewel-like fruits in a range of beautiful colours. At the top of our list are hypericums, which have bright yellow flowers followed by pink or red berries, which often appear at the same time giving a fabulous two-feature effect. The berries then turn black as the season progresses. The ‘Magical’ series (above) are among our favourites, but remember that the berries of all hypericums are poisonous, so keep them away from children and pets.
Harvest and preserve your apples
It’s a bumper year for apples, and if your tree is like mine, the branches are laden with fruit this year. You will know when the apples are ripe by cupping them in your hand and then twisting gently, at which point they should just come off the tree. Don’t be tempted to pick all your apples in one go as you will end up with a glut – they will also keep better if left on the tree. As well as eating them fresh, store any surplus early apples that are ripening now by adding them to pies and crumbles, or make them into apple sauce with the zest of a lemon, a little butter and some caster sugar.
Think of spring
Order spring and early summer bulbs from online specialist nurseries and then get planting. Try unusual bulbs, such as Ornithologalums (above) and Nectaroscordums (below), as well as daffodils and tulips. These beauties are hardy and will flower alongside alliums to create a dramatic early summer display next year. Most bulbs like free-draining ground, so dig a bucketful or two of horticultural grit into heavy clay soils before planting or pot them up in containers.
Sow some winter salads
Try sowing lettuces now for fresh leaves over winter. Simply sow the seeds in modular trays now and plant out the seedlings in October. You will then need to cover them with fleece to protect them from frost, but that’s about all the care they will need, apart from some slug protection to when you plant them. Try mizuna, mibuna and mustard for crisp, fresh winter leaves.
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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert
View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert