September is a relaxed time in the garden as the fight to keep plants watered and deadheaded has eased. Although we're often lucky enough to have an Indian summer, nothing is certain with the weather, so make the most of the available time left to spend in the garden.
Now is the time to add excitement and exuberance to your borders for autumn by including a selection of late flowering perennials. These ‘fashionably late bloomers’ have been patiently growing all year, waiting for their turn to take the spotlight, and now their time has come to fill our gardens with vibrant colour.
Japanese Anemones, also known as windflowers, are the stars of the autumn garden. Tall and bold, their simple flowers in shades from white to pink really celebrate the season. They are adaptable plants, growing in most garden situations including full sun and partial shade. These late bloomers are perfect for pollinating insects, and are also deer resistant. Japanese Anemone’s can be a bit of a thug and spread rapidly through a border, so keep an eye on them and remove unwanted suckers before they take hold. My favourite Japanese Anemones are Whirlwind, a semi-double white variety, and September Charm which has masses of rosy-pink flowers.
Sedum, or ice plants, are as dependable and adaptable as they come. Reliably flowering from August to November with eye-catching colours from pure white to red. The thick, fleshy foliage is available in a range of colours, from grey/blue, dark purple (including my favourite ‘Purple Emperor’) and some varieties even have variegated leaves. Sedums are attractive to pollinating insects. Sedums are also available in low-growing or alpine varieties.
Michaelmas Day (the feast of St Michael the archangel) celebrated on 29th September, lends its name to one of the most valuable group of hardy perennials to flower through September and October, the Michaelmas Daisy or Aster. Available in a rich range of colours from deep pink, plum and purple, Asters have a long flowering season. Asters make great cut flowers as they have exceptionally long vase life lasting as long as a fortnight! Asters can suffer from powdery mildew, keeping the beds weed-free helps as the weeds act as a host to the fungus and decrease air circulation. Asters thrive on damp soil so add plenty of well rotted organic matter as a thick mulch in spring and keep them well watered. Tall varieties of asters will need supporting to prevent them flopping in autumn storms. Aster Novi-belgii ‘Jenny’ is a compact aster that forms a neat cushion plant that has masses of double deep magenta red flowers. ‘Marie Ballard’ has soft, lilac blue double flowers. Other Top Tips for September: • Plant spring flowering bulbs such as Daffodils, Snowdrops & Crocus. • Prepare the lawn for winter by using an autumn lawn treatment. Apply a top dressing of top soil, and gently rake lawn seed into any bare patches. • Pinch out the growing tips of cordon tomato plants to divert the plants energy into ripening fruit. • Plant winter flowering pansies & violas in tubs & baskets. Whatever September brings I hope you are able to spend some time in your garden, soaking up the last of the summer sunshine. Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk