Four times a year I write a little bit about the changing seasons and how much I appreciate the difference that it makes to our surroundings, and now again as we start to transition into another autumn from what has been a wholly dismal summer so far. That’s not to say that I’m entirely complaining, as my sporadic watering regime has not had much of a detrimental effect on the garden, there have been few periods more that a couple of days that there hasn’t been some degree of rain. Maybe September will bless us with a little late summer warmth. It does mean however that everything has been growing at an alarming rate, we’ve been harvesting as fast as the vegetables are growing and still they come. We decided to leave the beans to go to seed once we’d frozen about 12 kilos, and what space isn’t taken up with them is occupied with cooked courgettes, tomatoes and an abundance of fruit.
There are still a large number of flowers that are hanging on the last of the long days, and many that will go on until they’re finished off by a frost, such as Plox paniculata, Heleniums, Crocosmia, and one of my favourite ‘doers’, Penstemon. As long as you keep removing the spent flowers you can these to keep going right up to the end of summer, but it does require a certain degree of dedication as the rate at which they come can be hard to keep up with. It’s also a time when we start to think about the jobs that we’ll be needing to do to put the garden to bed for the winter, but I’ll leave that for another month as we should be focussing on enjoying it all for the beauty that it has to offer right now.
Of course, the main reason that the flowers are there at all, apart from us to enjoy, is to attract the myriad of insects that spend their days flitting about to pollinate the plants, and that in turn that leads to them producing seeds. Collecting these seeds is an annual ritual that I have and I get quite excited at the thought of the plants that I will inevitably fail to propagate from them, but the intention is always there. In the past I’ve had great success with Agapanthus for example, but even things such as alliums that are normally associated with a bulb can be brought to life from collected seed. The only issue is that because of diversity of the genes, you are never guaranteed to end up with exactly what you thought you might. This is especially true with F1 hybrids and you can end up with some quite unexpected results.
But as we come to the end of the summer, whatever the weather gods have bestowed upon us, it is lovely to watch as it all begins to fade, and the abundance wanes into the quieter months. The end of this month will bring the start of autumn upon us and we’ll be thinking of preparing for the cold months ahead. I became aware of the longer shadows in the evenings a few days ago, something that happens so slowly that you barely notice, until one moment catches you and you stop to be aware of the moment. In our busy lives, running from work to appointments, to social events, and of course keeping on top of the plants, it’s easy to forget to stop and take a moment to appreciate what’s around us. Now, as we leave one season for another is a better time than any.
- Fill in any gaps in the garden with autumn flowering bedding, if you like them
- Now is a good time to plant perennials outside as the ground is warm but should remain fairly wet
- Think about ordering trees and shrubs as they will need to go in before winter sets in
- Keep deadheading flowers to prolong their season
- Begin to plant spring flowering bulbs towards the end of the month
- Net brassicas to keep birds from pecking them to destruction
- Pot up strawberry runners for more plants next year
- Net ponds before the leaves start to fall
- Dig up the last of the potatoes to prevent slug damage