September In My Garden by Philippa Thomas.

Goodbye Memorable August and Welcome Promising September.  Our days are now becoming noticeably shorter and our nights are sometimes more gusty and cooler than our past August.  Stunning Autumnal colours with hues of butter yellow, brilliant rusts, golds, oranges and scarlet reds to mention but a few breathtaking shades are surrounding us.  September is Our Season of Change.  It is a month to enjoy our harvests.  It really can be a brilliant month so… let’s make the most of our remaining warmth while we can…, remember Our Autumn will creep into our borders leaf by leaf.  Our gardens right now, can still remain pretty much full of colour.  Our flowers will generally continue to bloom until our first frosts, – likewise Our Dalkey Gardens are presently full of ripe or ripening seed of both ornamental or edible plants.  So, collect seed pods from plants that you plan to reseed.  – Remember, we have magical hours between day and night.  – Best still, not to dig!  Digging our soil dries it out.  Instead, let our worms do their job during our final warm month.  …Our Dalkey Sunsets are now, around 7 p.m.

Perennial herbs such as chives, lovage, sorrel, fennel and marjoram will benefit from a second hair cut, so chop them back to the ground for fresh tasty leaves that will grow within a few weeks.  If left to flower, they may loose their flavour, so a regular chop is the key – choose a feed that doesn’t include nitrogen as it affects the taste.  Sow rocket now, it doesn’t bat an eyelid (a serrated green leaf!) with cold or wet.  Now too, is an excellent time to start planting Spring bulbs as the ground will still be warm and such allows their new roots to bed in.  Some little small Spring bulbs can add a touch of magical colour to our quiet border.  Some of these stars include Muscari, Iris Reticulata, Crocus, Mixed Anemone Blanda bulbs, single or double Snowdrops.  – For natural looking drifts cast/throw the bulbs across the planting area and plant them where they land.  – Why not plant a layered pot of bulbs known as ‘bulb lasagne’ for your doorstep with the largest and latest flowering bulbs at the lowest level and early flowering smaller bulbs on top.  Top-dress with grit to keep the pot looking good through Winter.  If we get an Indian Summer (a period of dry, warm weather occurring in late Autumn) it is best then, to water plants liberally, first thing in the morning to avoid scorching their roots.  Watering in the evening can encourage slugs and snails.  If too, we have some roses that developed black spot over our late Summer, it’s worth taking time to remove all the affected leaves, including all those that have fallen on the ground.  This will stop spores overwintering and should help prevent infection of next year’s growth.  Best not to put diseased leaves on your compost heap.  Try feeding your Roses to encourage a final flush.  On the other hand, pull Astroemerias as they go over from their first flowering, pull rather than cut the stems as you do Rhubarb.  This encourages more growth from below ground to give you a huge second flush of flowers right through the Autumn.

Trouble with Annoying Mosquitoes and general Flies?

Scented Geraniums seem to be a popular mosquito repellent plant, especially lemon scented: mosquitoes also detest the pungent scent of Lavenders.  Flies then, hate Basil, Cloves, Mint, Cinnamon, Peppermint, Eucalyptus and lemon-grass.  Essential oils sprayed around the house will create a beautiful scent but will also deter all our annoying flies.

THERE IS NOTHING LIKE SEEING A PLANT IN THE WILD TO UNDERSTAND ITS HABITAT.

Finally, watch out for Fat Hen, an annual weed which tends to flower during long days, usually between July and September.  Try and get rid of it before the flowers turn to seeds as it then can produce huge quantities.

Might Do, Maybe September Jobs:

  1. Take Pelargonium cuttings, they will root right now so very easily, to give you plants for your windowsill all Winter.
  2. Take cuttings of tender perennials such as Salvias and Plectranthus, for next year. Cut back the leaves by half to reduce water loss while cutting is rooting and remove the centre growing point to encourage a bushier plant and to stop the plant flowering.
  3. Maybe, freeze small edible flowers, borage, pansies, violas in ice or olive oil cubes.
  4. Keep Camellias and Rhododendrons well watered at this time of year to ensure that next year’s buds develop well.
  5. Close greenhouse vents and doors late in the afternoon to help trap the heat overnight, this will help plants to flower as long as possible. Damp cool nights can encourage botrytis.
  6. Ice cubes work well in hanging baskets or containers for a slow release solution to daily watering for our anticipated ‘Welcome September’ hot days.
  7. Long, whippy growths on Wisteria can be pruned back now to about pencil length.
  8. Raspberries: pick on a dry day and eat immediately for their intense flavour. Unripe raspberries freeze best.
  9. The leaves of scented Pelargoniums, especially the lemon scented and rose scented types are probably best suited in cooking. They work particularly well for flavouring cakes and baked apples, also in lovely summery, cold drinks.   Cy’s Suburst; for lemon scented.  Pink Capricorn; for rose scented leaves.

Rose Petals.

We have all heard that rose petals sprinkled in a bath isn’t all appearance.  They can actually enhance your skin, and mood.  Rosewater soothes irritated skin and tightens pores for a smooth appearance.

How To Dry Rose Petals.

  1. Gather rose petals that have not been treated with herbicides, pesticides or other chemicals.
  2. Gently rinse the rose petals and drain them well.
  3. Place petals on parchment paper.
  4. Bake the petals for 10 minutes until petals are crisp and break easily.
  5. Cool the petals completely and store in an airtight container.

“From plants that wake when others sleep, from timid Jasmine buds that keep their odour to themselves all day, but when the sunlight dies away let the delicious secret out to every breeze that roams about.”

Thomas Moore.