September

You’ve got to look, I’ve got a whole new website!  I’ve been threatening this for a few years, about 6 to be precise, never having the time nor the technological know-how to achieve it – I still don’t but, Steve does (with a little techy help from the lovely Dan) so here I stand on the shoulders of computer giants, basking in the glory.  I’m quite pleased with it.  I didn’t want to put people off contacting me for help by looking all frightening and corporate and …well…expensive! But I think it is quite a friendly website.  Please have a little wander and be honest with your comments.  I may have overlooked the blindingly obvious as self-promotion isn’t a natural trait.  But onto the newsletter which apparently can now be a blog  (need to work out what that means and hey presto I believe I will have finally joined the 21st century!).

I hope your summer has been full of outside delights. I’m a bit more relaxed, still a little bouncy, but more relaxed. The secataur callus on my index finger has somewhat subsided and I’m a little more plumptious and less pasty, thanks to a sojourn to Italy. Very lovely. Saw eryngium in the wild, which made me squeak, and it may be called sea holly but I found acres of it up in the moutains of Abruzzo. If you fancy a look I’ve put the photos on my facebook page. Having refreshed my bones and sunned my skin I’m ready for action and there is plenty to tackle in the garden. Let me tempt you out with some of this months seasonal jobs. No matter how hard we work some of us have a patch of garden which refuses to behave. When nature won’t bend to our will even the mildest mannered gardener goes a small bit bonkers. So let me see if I can restore a modicom of sanity for some of you with a shady area that refuses to let the grass grow in this months bit of blibber blabber. Once all the work is over lets get out and wander in a garden or three, have a look and see if I can tempt you out.

Seasonal jobs

  • This month we can look forward to choosing and planting our bulbs, sorting out the lawn and dig, dig, digging.  
  • Keep mowing lawns, but less frequently and raise the height on your mower.  As autumn roars up behind us then I’d suggest getting a compost bin . Build one, buy one or call me in and I’ll sort one out for you. 
  • Great time of year to give your lawn some T.L.C. A feed, scarify and add a bit of seed to bare patches.
  • Give your shrubs and hedges a high potash liquid fertilizer feed.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for earwigs on your dahlias. If you see any sign of nibbling then set up flower pots rammed with straw onto bamboo canes. This traps the earwigs, so you can burn, squash or gently re-home the blighters every morning. 
  • This is the best time to plant some evergreen shrubs. 
  • Once your beans and peas have exhausted themselves providing food for your tummy, cut them to ground level but leave the roots in the soil. Don’t pull them out as the roots fix nitrogen into the soil and provide fabulous nourishment for your greedy brassica crop that you’ll be putting in next! 
  • Pick apples. Don’t force the apple off by twisting. Just cupping a hand underneath will show if an apple is ready or not. 
  • Dig up the last of your potatoes before the slugs get them.
  • Pot up and bring in tender herbs such as basil.
  • Hang wasp traps onto your fruit trees to prevent the wasps damaging your fruit.
  • If you have a problem with vine weevil then now is a wonderful time to set the nemetodes free and get some biological help.
  • Take cuttings, it’s easy.
  • Order rooted fruit trees and bushes for planting later in the autumn, I can recommend Ashridge Trees and Keepers Nursery.
  • Prune rambler roses, tidying and tying in. 
  • Have a look at your pots and hanging baskets and be brutal. If things are looking sad and limp take drastic action and pull out and revamp for the autumn. 
  • Sow some hardy annuals outdoors for some early spring colour. Some that you might like to scatter are alyssum, calendular, candytuft, clarkia, coreopsis, cornflower, godetia, larkspur, limnanthes, nigella, poppies, scabious, viscaria. 
  • Any spare pot fill with bulbs. Come spring these can be placed into bare patches in your garden giving an instant lift to your borders. Choosing one variety of flower often works well, but I’ll leave the decision up to your artistic temperament. (don’t plant tulips yet – wait until November). 
  • Put a net over your pond to catch falling leaves.
  • Start to think about buying your garlic to plant next month.
  • In your veg beds get sowing some lamb’s lettuce, land cress, winterpurslan and some shallots.  
  • Turnip’s traditionally aren’t worth growing unless you have a field – but I have a bit of empty space in my vegetable patch that isn’t holding any crops so I’m going to give it a go. 
  • Get your vegetable plot sorted for next year. Dig in well rotted manure and fertilizer and if you dare, add some green manure.
  • Blimey that was a list and a half, and we are looking to wind down for the year! As always if you need any help or advice then please get in touch.

Shhh… it’s shady business

Barren, dark, dry, grassless wilderness under your trees? Don’t sigh. Stop worrying. I know you’ve even tried to get that specialized turf a-growing and now you are barely managing to peep at your barren patch of garden through your fingers. Try to remember you are a grown up and should be above chewing your tongue in anguish over matters that are so far out of your control that you should know better!  This was exactly why in the middle ages we chucked Juniper (a shade loving plant) at ethyl alcohol to create Gin, so splash in the tonic and regroup.

What to do? – Lets have a look what nature does when we don’t intervene and lets run with it.  Under trees in woodland we find hardy ferns, hellebores, epimediums, lots of bulbs. So there is life in that there dry twilight, and it is beautiful too.

Big leaves: Ok if we need to get a plant to grow in shade it needs to be able to photosynthesis, so a good amount of light is needed, so we need big leaves – huge leaves – the bigger the better.  Heuchera are happy in shade, so are big leaved geranium, alchemilla, tiarella and gallium. You can see pictures of all of these in the buying bit!

 Shiny stuff: Ok another way for a plant to get it’s daily sunshine quota is to have a dark dark glossy leaf.  Have a look at the deliciously fragrant saracocca (also known as Sweet or Christmas box), the viburnums are happy in the shade and also Juniper bushes.

 Mossy bottom: Moss lovely moss.  It is so in vogue.  Ali once worked with us and she use to scrape little bits of moss into her pockets to take home and pop in her dark, beautiful garden.  Sound more 50 shades than I meant but she actually did and I mean garden! Moss gardening is a whole bit of blibber for another day.  But in short if you choose to go for it and let the moss you have lead the way and encourage it, embrace it and spread it around then beautiful things can happen.  The Japanese have grown moss gardens for centuries so I’d look to Saihō-ji, the moss temple in Kyoto  for some inspiration. Or maybe something more contemporary could talk you round how about a bit of moss graffiti? Some ideas are a bit better than others…. but until I get out there and add graffiting I really shouldn’t judge!!

 Where to buy? – Have a look at Long Acre Plants website they are great. Also Edrom nurseries are great for shade loving plants.  Fibrex sound like they make toilet paper for people who eat too much allbran but they actually sell shade ivy and ferns that love a bit of dry shade. Then there is always Crocus

 We’ve got ourselves a reader – Mr Schenk is the  go to guy for your shady corner his ‘The Complete Shade Gardener’ is a well known, well used and helpful book but it is very much American. Mr Schenk doesn’t stop there, oh no, he offers up an even better book ‘Moss Gardening’, this time it really doesn’t matter that he is an American Gardener.  I like Gardeners World Magazine, 101 shade loving plants. It has lots of pictures to show people what I’m on about not much detail. So I have found this book ‘Planting the dry shade garden’ by Graham Rice it looks good and I have another book about Hellebores by Mr Rice who is a thorough and informative writer, I feel happy to recommend it having never opening it, is that cheeky?

Websites – Oh whenever I write this bit I always end up loosing a few hours as I don’t know what is out there in the land of helpful gardening websites and then I get all excited! I have found most of the plants I have mentioned on this lets go gardening website. I also started reading Lisa’s webpage on her turning earth website and she has a very different attitude to gardening in her Yorkshire garden which I really liked, think it will interest you have a look.

A day out

Can I tempt you to wander North of the River?  In Hampstead is the lovely Fenton House who have an apple weekend on 15th and 16th September.

Saturday 15th September is Capital Growth

Edible Open Gardens Day. Download their brochure to see a garden to visit near you.

Sunday 16th 12-4 Streatham Common Community Garden is having a BBQ to celebrate a year.  It is a lovely project tucked away in the walled garden up in the Rookery.  It is open every Sunday 12-4 to go along and help.