Linked magazine would like to welcome our new guest writer Athena McLellan, a local qualified gardener. Athena takes a fun and practical approach, and there is nothing ‘dry’ about her gardening advice. She does, in fact, suggest utilising many of the fruits and flowers to make gin! Enjoy.
‘To Do’ or not to do – the choice is yours. Gardening is meant to be fun.
There are many blogs giving advice on ‘what to do in your garden’, I hope you find this one a little different. My aim is to help you achieve your gardens maximum potential throughout the entire year and give wildlife a helping hand along the way.
- All these beautiful annuals that you planted in early summer will keep giving until first frosts if you continue to feed and deadhead. Container and hanging baskets rely on this treatment. If you have space, i.e. a conservatory or heated greenhouse, you can bring in pelargoniums (geraniums), marguerite daisies, etc. , before frosts, give them a good trim back and they should last the winter – giving you a great head start in early summer and saving you a few pounds too.
- Lavenders need pruning this month, taking care not to cut into leafless wood; they can be trimmed with secateurs by taking the flower stem and up to 2.5 cm of this year’s growth. This will save them from growing leggy. The Lavender can be dried and used in a variety of ways, i.e. Lavender Infused Gin! If you would love to grow lavender, but your garden is too wet, try Nepeta Six Hills Giant. This is a beautiful plant, very similar in looks to lavender but far happier in our good old wet Scottish soil. An added bonus is that it is extremely attractive to bees and next year your garden will be buzzing!
- As the weather turns colder, herbaceous perennials that are getting too big for their boots can be divided. Remember to water in the new divisions well. New perennials, trees and shrubs can be planted in September as the soil should still be a little warm from summer. Ensure spring flowering plants, trees and shrubs are well watered as flower buds develop in autumn. Your Rhododendron and Camelia’s will reward you for it.
- Begin the leaf clearing – store the leaves in black bags with holes in them and stick them behind the shed if you don’t have a leaf compost area – leaves 2/3 years old make the best leaf mould once they are rotted down and look like tobacco. It’s fantastic for seeds or as mulch. Evergreen leaves, i.e. from Laurels, etc. are best put in your brown bin as they take much longer to decompose.
- In the veg garden, the French and runner beans should still be going strong – keep harvesting to prevent them running to seed. Don’t get stuck in a rut with ways to use your veg, the internet is heaving with them. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any runner bean with alcohol, so anyone for Runner Bean Pesto? When they do finish at the end of the month, cut the plants at ground level and keep the roots in to fix nitrogen into the soil.
- Your main crop potatoes can be dug up, dried for a few hours in the greenhouse if necessary, and stored in hessian sacks. Inspect them thoroughly when bagging them and throw away any with signs of rot as one rotted potato can destroy a whole bag.
- Mint and parsley can be potted up and brought inside for the winter.
- Green manures can be sewn, such as mustard, clover and rye grass. These plants help the soil and keep the weeds down over winter. In the spring they generally just need dug in to the beds.
- Strawberries need a good tidy at this time of year with any runners being potted up for next year’s plants. A plant will last about 3 years before the fruit begin to get smaller. Tidy up the straw and leaves and compost them.
- Apples and plums will be ready this month, apples will of course keep if they are kept cold and dark, plums are a different story. They can be frozen of course, but why not try something different and make Plum Liqueur or Plum Gin? There are plenty recipes out there and they’d make fabulous Christmas presents.
- The lawn mower blades should be raised and autumn is an ideal time for any lawn maintenance. Scarifying can be done on a small lawn with a rake and dead patches can be treated. This is the perfect time to use a top dressing or an autumn fertiliser. A bigger lawn will require a Lawn Scarifier which can be hired or get a team in.
- A hedgehog friendly garden is an essential and we can help by leaving wilder areas in the garden, a hole in the bottom of the fence with the neighbours and building or buying a home for them – www.gardenersworld.com among many others has great guidelines on how to build your own.
- Ponds could do with a clear of weeds this month and if possible, cover with netting to prevent leaves falling on it.
- Bulbs – I love this month and bulb planting (unless its tulips, which shouldn’t be planted until later). There is such a vast array of bulbs out there and whilst I am a great believer in shopping local – very important with plants – I usually get my fix of bulbs from the internet. I use gee-tee.co.uk among others, simply for the cornucopia of bulbs on offer. Go on, have a look at online bulb suppliers and buy something a little different. It gives you something to look forward to over winter. Try planting very early flowering bulbs for the bees; aconites, iris and crocus. Snowdrops of course are early, but they flourish far better when planted ‘in the green’ in early spring.
On that note, I hope you feel inspired to complete one or two of those jobs – even if it is armchair gardening with your iPad for bulbs or checking out the gin recipes! This summer has been pretty wet and hopefully a drier autumn is on the cards. For a great weather guide and laugh, I follow Windy Wilson on Facebook. He’s not for the faint hearted (lots of swearing), but I do find him one of the most reliable when it comes to weather and forecasting and to us gardeners, that’s important.
Athena is available for private gardening consultations and design services.
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