When I wrote last month’s gardening post, the sun was shining and everything seemed to be blossoming and fruiting. Fast forward a few weeks to September in my garden and what a change. As I write, it’s overcast and raining. And there’s a distinct chill in the air at night. Autumn is definitely on her way.
What's flowering now?
Not as much as this time last year, sadly. I think the heatwave earlier this year meant that everything flowered early and then suffered with the excessive heat. (My water rates bill has shot up this year, no doubt due to all the dousing I had to do over the summer).
But it’s not all gloom, there’s still plenty of colour and, more importantly, plenty of opportunities for the bees to find food, around our pond in particular. Our pink Cosmos is a runaway success and looks stunning next to the white Japanese Anemones, and purple Asters.
Last year I cut off the spent sunflower heads and left them to dry so the birds could harvest their seeds. I’ve done the same again this year, and I’m keeping a few seeds back to sow again next year too :)
And speaking of seeds, just look at this glorious tumble of fragrant petunias next to our conservatory. Can you believe all these flowers are from one plant, grown from one tiny seed the size of a poppy seed? Isn’t this a great advert for growing your own flowers?
More of my dahlias are beginning to flower now, including another favourite, Thomas Edison dahlia grown from a tuber last year and then mulched over winter rather than lifted and stored. (I just can’t be bothered with the faff!)
An unexpected surprise and delight was the beautiful purple flowering Malva (this post’s cover pic) next to our skeleton bench. I didn’t plant it here so it must have grown from a seed blown over from who knows where.
What's fruiting now?
Our deliciously crunchy Burpless Green cucumbers are all but over, we have two left to harvest but then it will be time to clear them out of the greenhouse. Ditto our tomatoes, which are nearing the end. They’ve given us a pretty good harvest, considering they’ve been baking under glass this summer and they really prefer cooler conditions. Next year I’m only going to sow Burpless Green and our favourite Thompson & Morgan’s Rainbow Blend tomatoes, they’re the most colourful and flavoursome of any we’ve tried.
And for the first time ever, we have two pumpkins, grown from our May Mud and Bloom box. OK, they’re pretty small and will have to go some to be ready for Hallowe’en but still, I’m very excited about them :)
We have a bumper crop of pears this year from our Poundstore pear tree (yes, really!) planted seven years ago. You can tell when pears are ready for picking by twisting them gently three times. If they come off easily, they’re ready, if they don’t, they need a little longer on the tree. Once picked, leave them to ripen, soften and sweeten up in your fruit bowl before eating.
Our apples are over, bar a few fallers, and there weren’t enough peaches to make jam with. We did manage to harvest a few peaches though, and they were delicious: juicy white flesh with a blush, well worth the wait.
Much to my surprise, our strawberry plants are fruiting again – Flora picked some a couple of evenings ago and pronounced them sweet and juicy. But the biggest success story has to be our grapevine. I hard pruned it this Spring (and I do mean, hard, back to the basic trunk structure). Look at it now, haha.
It’s got masses of bunches on it, I need to get up the ladder again to prune some foliage away so the grapes can ripen. They’re sweetly edible but as there are so many, we’ll probably just leave most of them for the birds (again).
Jobs for September
Thankfully, my harvesting, watering and deadheading has slowed down now. Instead, I’m getting ready to divide some perennials like my Crocosmia to make new plants. And Gardeners’ World had a really helpful segment on taking and growing softwood cuttings recently. I’ve been inspired to try with some of our roses as, unlike sowing from seed, if you take a cutting from a plant it will be a clone, which is great if you really love the original.
Later this month we’ll be raking up all the fallen leaves and squashing them into biodegradable hessian sacks or black bin liners with a few punctured holes. This time next year they’ll have turned into lovely, crumbly leaf mould. I’ll use this either to improve our soil drainage or just as a mulch for our bulb pots over winter.
September in my garden
I hope you’ve enjoyed another ramble through our garden and orchard this month? We’re very lucky to have the space for me to indulge my love of sowing, growing, cutting and harvesting our own. I describe myself as a keen but clueless gardener and that’s true, I’ve only been doing this for six years. Everything I do, I’ve picked up by watching Gardeners’ World or reading books. Although I have to say, Nature is my best teacher :) What will you be doing in your outside space this September?