River Wissey Lovell Fuller

September Gardening

October 2015

The hectic days of summer are over; September is a relaxed time in the garden as the fight to keep plants watered and deadheaded has eased. Although we're often lucky to have an Indian summer with blue skies and sunshine, nothing is certain with the weather, so make the most of the available time left to spend in the garden. Often summer planted hanging baskets will flower right until the first frosts provided they are kept dead-headed and well fed. However, some plants might look tired and you may be tempted to take your baskets down and store them away for the winter, or worse leave a basket full of dead summer plants up all winter. Why not replant them with hardy plants and have colour from September to May? Hanging baskets are such an easy way to add interest and colour to any garden, transforming a bare wall or fence. Now is the best time to re-plant pots and baskets full of flowers and foliage for winter as the plants will have time establish strong roots before the cold weather hits. There is a huge selection of shrubs, herbaceous, bedding and bulbs to choose from. Although these plants are not as flamboyant as those used in summer containers you can still make a statement with careful plant selection. As with summer baskets when planting use the rule “Thrillers, Spillers & Fillers” (See Aprils edition) for the best display. The most popular winter flowering plants are Pansies and Violas. These cheerful flowers follow the best light so plant them where you look at them with the sun behind you, and then their flowers will face you. Pansies have large flowers and are available in a wide range of colours and types including plain-faced, bicolours, blotched, whiskered and ruffled. Plant the more elaborate types at eye level where you can appreciate their pretty patterns. Violas have much smaller flowers; however there are a lot more flowers produced on one plant at any time. Dead-heading pansies and violas regularly will keep them flowering for longer. As soon as the flowers fade nip them off with garden scissors or your thumb & forefinger. Mini Cyclamen will flower for many weeks on end, often right up into Christmas if the season is mild. Autumn flowering Hebe’s provide a splash of colour right through the season. A pot or basket filled with evergreens including dwarf conifers, ferns, Euonymus, Lonicera, winter heathers box, and Skimmia simply is irresistible. Add some trailing plants including Ivies, Vinca and Lysimachia for the ultimate basket. Bulbs including Narcissus, Muscari and dwarf tulips will provide additional colour in spring. Heuchera are an excellent choice as their foliage comes in rich plum shades with exquisite markings, which contrast with green foliage. Grasses such as Carex and Stipa provide height and contrasting textures, as do Phormiums and Cordylines in large pots. Herbs including rosemary, sage, and thyme can also be used. The choice is endless! There are some practical considerations to bear in mind when planting pots and baskets for winter. Remember that plants grow very little in winter, so start off with good sized plants (plugs must be grown on before planting out) and use sufficient numbers of plants to make an impact from the start. Position the pot or basket where it will get as much light as possible to ensure plant foliage remains green and healthy. Water carefully in winter, making sure you check the compost regularly as it can soon dry out in mild spells; small plants are susceptible to both under, and overwatering. A weak solution of tomato feed will promote flowering, but do not use fertilisers that are high in nitrogen as this will encourage lots of lush growth that will be susceptible to frost damage. Raise pots off the ground to aid drainage and prevent freezing that cause pots to crack. Whatever September brings I hope you get a chance to step out into the sunshine and enjoy the season as you tackle this months gardening jobs. Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk info@p-rgardensupplies.co.uk

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