September is the month to start tidying up in the garden and preparing for both the winter ahead and also for the next year. As well as clearing away dying annuals and tidying spent perennials, there is also propagating to be done to ensure you have more of those plants you love for next year. So before you take your secateurs out into the garden take a moment or two to check this short reminder of some of the essential jobs to be doing in the flower garden during August.
Remove any dying annuals from flower borders to make way for spring bedding and bulbs. Any half hardy perennials will need lifting and bringing into the greenhouse when colder nights are forecast. Look after those herbaceous plants that are coming into flower at this time such as Michaelmas daisies that may need spraying with fungicide to prevent mildew.
September is the time to take cuttings from your favourite roses. Cut off a shoot around 25cm long, cutting above a bud at the top and below a bud at the base. Place a number of cuttings around the edge of a pot filled with compost. Also take cuttings from pansies and violas. Plant out spring bedding plants including forget-me-nots, pansies and wallflowers, making sure you fork over the ground before planting. Now is also the time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as crocus, fritillaries and other dwarf bulbs into lawns or under deciduous trees. Take a handful of bulbs and scatter, then plant them where they lay. This will produce a more naturalized look.
Sow sweet pea seeds in pots and protect in a cold greenhouse or frame over winter. Time now to lift dahlia tubers before the first frosts. Brush off the soil, wrap in newspaper and store in a dry frost-free place until next spring. The start of autumn is a good time to life and divide congested clumps of perennials. Replant the divided clumps back into borders while the soil is still warm. Likewise, now is also a good time to lift and move shrubs that are planted in the wrong place.
Finally, fill those garden planters that have been emptied of summer bedding with spring bulbs such as hyacinths, daffodils and crocus. You might also like to fill some with bedding plants such as pansies, violas, dwarf skimmia and ivy for autumn interest. Group together containers of different sizes for a really stunning display.
Jo Poultney is a RHS qualified gardener who has recently set up a business selling garden planters and garden related gifts via a website.