September is too early to sow seeds, although there is no reason why you can’t peruse the many seed catalogues available on line these days. I have been collecting seeds all summer starting with the first annuals, like cerinthe, nigella, sweet peas to later flowers like wallflowers, hollyhocks and more recently cleome. They have been cleaned up and put into envelopes with the name and date on them and given a winter in my fridge, even though it is summer! They do need this cold period in order to germinate when you are ready to sow them. Some seeds have a very long life and nowadays many countries and organisations have ‘seed banks’ to preserve plant genetic diversity, which is very important for a variety of reasons – climate change, natural and man-made disasters and for research. Mine are just to share with my gardening friends!
Leave planting winter vegetable plugs until next month, but you can prepare your plot by digging in any compost you have made, choosing a cooler day to do that job. You could be thinking about any cuttings of favourite plants that you might like to take towards the end of the month and selecting material for that job. Lavender and rosemary are likely subjects for that.
If you have a veranda garden, high temperatures can play havoc with plants as the heat tends to collect in places like that and also brings problems of watering, high winds and exposure to the sun just like ‘real’ gardens. These problems can be overcome to some extent when trees and shrubs are planted in pots early on in their lives, they can always be moved up a pot size as they grow and eventually they will give some shade. Walls can be covered in potted climbing plants like Hoya carnosa or Podranea ricasoliana and by grouping plants together makes for easier watering and fills blank corners making them more attractive.
Towards the end of the month spring bulbs should be appearing in the garden centres. Choose them carefully; I know I say that every year, but it is important. Check that the bulbs are firm and not showing any signs of mould. There is such a choice of bulbs available now that it may be difficult to know what to grow. One year I tried snowdrops, native to mainland Europe, but apart from the first year when they flowered reasonably well, they didn’t survive long. It’s strange that tulips started life at this end of the Med and look at them now! One of my favourites that blooms as the weather cools down is Sternbergia lutea, a member of the Amaryllis family and sometimes mistaken for an autumn crocus.
Refresh tired planters with bright and cheerful potted annuals like petunias. They don’t last the summer as their roots are so near to the surface that they get burned and die. We may just have a shower of rain later in the month, so keep an eye out for the re-emergence of snails. However, there will probably not be enough rain yet to thoroughly wet the ground, so don’t think about planting much yet, as plugs and bulbs planted in dry ground will not make roots. It can all wait a while!
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