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Dear Gardeners,

September used to be considered the first month of autumn in the garden, but it is now much more of a transitional time with a lot of good summer colour still prominent as well as autumn tints beginning to show. There are a number of great late summer flowering perennials such as phlox, asters and anemones to consider planting to add some interest before the frosts begin. You could also be planting some garden chrysanthemums, which are in flower now and are also hardy enough to survive the winter. In your pots, you can now start planting cyclamen and winter flowering pansies.
  • Look out for the new displays of spring flowering bulbs in the garden centres and make your choices now whilst the range is at its greatest! Most bulbs are happiest planted as soon as you can, although storing them for a few weeks so that you can under-plant your winter bedding displays in your pots is also quite acceptable. Tulips are best not planted immediately. They do not like to be planted until the soil begins to cool off for winter.
  • Under-planting your displays of winter flowering pansies and cyclamen with some bulbs will give you a lovely colourful bonus as spring unfurls next year!
  • Autumn has always been the best time for planting new hardy plants such as shrubs, trees and cottage garden plants. It is also the best time to plant fruit trees and bushes. The reason for this is that whilst their top growth will be dying off, plants continue to make new roots in the warm and moist autumn soil and so are fully established by the spring, enabling them to grow away as soon as conditions permit without any check.
  • Has your lawn suffered in the dry weather? Well, now is the time to help it out. You may want to scarify or aerate the lawn if it sits very wet in winter but it's certainly a good time to apply some autumn feed and moss-killer, for example Evergreen Autumn 2 in 1. This is a great combination of a fertiliser that promotes root growth and hardens the grass up for winter, as well as acting as a moss-killer.
  • As perennial herbaceous plants begin to die down and deciduous shrubs begin to loose their leaves, you can tidy them up with a light trim to keep the garden looking tidy for winter. Now is not the time for a hard prune - this should be left till the spring.
  • Wisteria are one plant you can be pruning now by shortening all the long trailing growth they have made in the summer back to about 12-18 inches (30-45 cms) from where they arose in the spring. This encourages the flowers to set.
  • As you clear green houses and cold frames, disinfect using Jeyes fluid to prevent any pests and diseases from overwintering in them, which will give your young seedlings a better chance next spring.
  • Lastly this is a great time for harvesting any fruit that has been developing all summer. A good way of determining if your apples are ready to pick is to either; gently lift and twist a fruit - if it comes away easily in your hand it is ready to pick, or cut a fruit open and the correct picking time is as the pips are changing from white to brown.

Until next month, happy gardening!

The Diamond Doctor