It may only be the start of September but I can feel Autumn is setting in. The mornings are cooler and darker, the grass is growing much slower and the daily gardening tasks are shifting away from lawn maintenance and perennial beds towards hedge cutting, leaf clearing and pulling out spent plants and flowers for another year.
On the bright side, we’ve got lots to look forward to. September is the month for beautiful flowers such as Helenium coming up in the herbaceous borders. There will crisp red and orange leaves on the ground before long, and it is prime wildlife spotting time.
Over the next few weeks there’s lots to be done in the garden to prepare for Autumn and the onset of winter. Prune climbing roses (once they’ve flowered), move and plant trees, shrubs and climbers, and you can even look to reduce any Buddleja, Cornus alba and Lavatera by around half before giving these plants a hard prune in the spring.
Now is also a good time to divide any overgrown or tired clumps of herbaceous perennials such as crocosmia to give them fresh vigour for next year. Other plants that can be divided include astilbe, hostas and campanula. Buy your spring flowering bulbs for planting in October – including daffodils and crocus, although leave off planting tulips until November.
If you are keen to carry on gardening throughout the winter months, make sure you are well equipped with the right outdoor gear. I’m currently looking for a new waterproof jacket and goretex boots and I’m looking on sites such as Engelbert Strauss who specialise in outdoor work wear. Gardening in the winter is fine but it’s important to have the right waterproofs and equipment to keep you warm and dry.
Autumn is also a great time to collect fallen leaves and put them on the compost heap or into separate pens, made out of chicken wire, for rotting down. Leave them for a year or so, turning regularly, and in 12 months you’ll have fantastic leaf mould to mulch your plants and improve the soil structure of your garden. For tips on how to make your own leaf mould bin, the BBC gardening website has an easy, step by step guide.
Every season brings new opportunities, joys and challenges in the garden. Enjoy feeling the change in the temperature, the colour of the borders and you never know, we might have an Indian summer still to come.