Where do the days go? This topsy turvy month has just flown away. Rain teased and brushed the ground, leaves quietly tumbled surrendering to drought and imminent autumn. It has been a strange summer, with many plants just not realising their potential. I have dahlias that have dithered about flowering and some things that just didn’t bother. I have had some good sunflowers though and have been thrilled with my planting of the new dwarf variety Lemon Cutie, which will certainly be on the list for next year. On the vegetable front, I managed a handful of runner beans, caterpillars mauled the cabbage and rats stripped the sweet corn. Still, it’s time to move on. We have had a bit of moisture in recent days and there are bulbs and winter bedding to get planted. There’s plenty of choice too, everywhere you look there are pansies and violas of every colour and habit, with some varieties raised to cascade. They are perfect for baskets and containers. Look out for the Wave and Teardrop series, which are both vigorous and free flowering. As usual you are going to find other autumn bedding like wallflowers, sweet William and forget me nots and the autumn chrysanths are looking stunning this year. As you tidy up your summer leftovers, salvage any tender plants that you hope to hold for next year. Dahlias, Cannas and some fuchsias will all be better for being spared full winter exposure.
If you have space and fancy fruit trees or bushes or indeed an ornamental tree, most places have good ranges this month and as plants move to dormancy it’s a good planting time. In the vegetable garden, as you free up space, get in some over wintering onion sets and garlic, then towards the end of the month plant your broad beans. There is no urgency, planted too early they will grow tall and flimsy then struggle to overwinter.
And finally, this hasn’t been a great year for fruit although the plums were ok, apples and pears struggled to make weight. Confident in the knowledge that next year will be different, give your trees a light prune, knocking out overcrowded, crossing or broken growth and then slap some grease around the main stem. There are pests looking to over winter on your trees and the introduction of grease or a grease band will thwart their advance up your tree keeping them clean for the spring.