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Back to School

Posted on 19th August 2012

September days can often be hot and sunny and the soil will definitely still be warm after the heat of the summer, but this month also signals great, if not subtle change.  The days are noticeably shorter and the first signs of leaf fall are occurring, even if it’s only the buttery yellowing of the silver birch by the sides of the road (which seem to turn earlier every year).  Now you’re back from your relaxing holiday, it’s ‘off to work we go’ in the garden too and it’s a great time for selecting, buying and planting spring flowering bulbs, and also for planting new shrubs and perennials. 


To work off that ‘holiday tummy’ from an excess of San Miguel (other European lagers are also available) I begin my lawn treatment programme this month by scarifying (raking out the dead grass and moss), before aerating (making holes in it) and brushing with horticultural sand.  This is really only necessary on a heavy clay soil, but any lawn will benefit from a good raking and top dressing.  This basically means the addition of an autumn lawn feed (to promote healthy root growth) and a sprinkling of sandy loam soil to level out any lumps and bumps.


September is also a good month to get more plants for free, whether that’s by removing seed heads from faded flowers and drying by hanging upside down in a paper bag or by division.  Herbaceous perennials (those which disappear underground in winter and grow back fresh new growth in spring), can be dug up right now with a fork and chopped in half or quarters if big enough.  Replant and water well and you will have extra plants to swap with friends or increase in your own borders.  If you’re quick, there may even be time to take some late semi ripe cuttings.  This way you can ensure that even if we have a really harsh winter you can get to keep your favourite Salvias, French Lavender or tender Pelargoniums going from year to year.


If the onset of Autumn fills you with dread, and the doom and gloom of yet another 6 months of darkness depresses you, or you simply don’t have a clue what I’m gibbering on about in these monthly articles, then why not book yourself onto a gardening course.  You’ll meet like minded gardening enthusiasts and you might even learn something in between the plant orientated chitter chatter, seed swapping and tea drinking.  But if that’s all too much effort and garden school is just not for you, how about some armchair gardening?  Log on to You Tube and search ‘spearjac’ to view loads of handy ‘how to’ guides.