And there it was gone, the summer just upped and left, making way for autumn. By early September many plants looked close to surrender as the dry weather thumped them and there was a fair amount of early leaf fall. The gardens have been reasonably productive, even without the rain. The beans have been ok, the French in particular have been amazing, but everything has needed to be kept tightly picked. My real joy this year has been with Aubergines, which have been fantastic and tomatoes which have been so flavoursome. I don’t do too much feeding, so the plants really have to work on finding what’s there. I really believe that taste can be compromised by too much feed. Most mornings I have had tomatoes on toast for breakfast. If you are chasing bigger crops then feeding is important, but I am talking about my domestic needs and I need flavour.
This month, we will be pulling out the stops to get the bulbs in and pad the borders and containers with the next offering of bedding plants. Pansies and violas to bring some winter colour and wallflowers and biennials as an investment for the spring. There are plenty of bulbs about and with careful management of the flowering times, very extended shows can be achieved, with selected varieties offering colour from early February into May. There are bulbs for every setting, statuesque sentinels for open space, with a little protection and dwarf forms for the breezy spots.
In the vegetable area, you can be planting out onions, garlic and shallots as well as spring cabbage plants and by the end of the month broad bean seed for over wintering. As always there is some tidying up to do, a good final cut of the lawn and a repairing prune of overgrown trees and shrubs to lessen the risk of winter damage through rough weather. This is also a month for new planting or relocation of trees and shrubs as they move into dormancy. The disruption will be minimal, many items not even noticing they’ve moved. You can also consider propagation by division, putting the spade through perennial favourites to expand stock, a clean slice through a clump will make you to extend displays. Such division can also be used on rhubarb crowns to increase the crop.
And finally, lift and shift dahlia tubers and other tender plants moving them into some shelter, early frosts can be brutal.