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Gardener's Diary           September

Gardener`s Diary is a regular feature of run by Rosemary Martin, who is semi retired.  She says anyone can enjoy gardening whether they have a large or small garden, can`t tell a dandelion from a daisy, or are aged 9 or 90… Here you will be able to see what jobs you should be doing in the garden month by month, get ideas for spectacular seasonal planting schemes, read previews on new plants and products, find out where to buy them, and get up-to-date news of forthcoming events and places to visit. 

For those of you that have never dabbled in the "black art" of gardening you will first need to get some basic knowledge from a good gardening book. You will find some within this article as examples...


But first an introduction from Rosemary...

I have been gardening now for about thirty years, long enough for my husband to know that it`s wise to bury his head in a newspaper when the secateurs come out of retirement...  I don`t have a favourite style of gardening, traditional is nice but I also think the modern trends work well. Plants in my garden have to be resilient as they get moved around frequently, and my husband has been heard  to mutter  “I don`t remember that tree being there this morning..”

Hobbies have come and gone over the years but only gardening has endured, and now in retirement this column adds a new dimension to the hobby, and will hopefully help others find pleasure in this healthy and therapeutic pastime  ...  

Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife


Fifth edition  - September 2001.

This month I have looked in depth at some basic garden tools 

Where did the summer go? Here we are in September already, with the nights rapidly closing in, and there are already signs in the garden of the approaching Autumn. The weather is still unsettled, but August did recover to give us some really hot days, however, like people, the garden doesn`t really have time to get acclimatised to the warm weather before it`s back to the cold, wind and rain again. Such is the nature of our fickle climate...

Well my loan puppy has long since been reunited with his own family, and of course we did get a new doggy companion for Penny, our dog, as she so loved having a playmate. Our new edition is a little female black labrador called Inca. (Unintentionally, they are Pen and Ink if their names are shortened ! )

Having two female dogs whose urine burns brown circles in the grass could be a problem, but I have trained Penny to use a gravelled corner of the garden for all her toilet needs, and will do the same with the new pup. This also serves to keep the garden free of mess for us and visitors. Not a nice subject I know, but worth mentioning.....  

Don`t forget to take some time out to visit a garden show or two while the weather is still reasonable, especially on the 18th and 19th September, which is the RHS Great Autumn Show, Royal Horticultural Halls, Greycoat Street, London SW1 

Or go to their website for a diary of all other events at:-


Jobs for the month - September


A mellow month hopefully, and the time when those of us who have fruit and vegetable gardens can reap the rewards of our labour....




Reduction in the watering and feeding rates should now begin gradually until the winter minimum is reached. Give the leaves of houseplants a misting with tepid water to clean them, and use a special houseplant leafshine for plants such as rubber plants and swiss cheese plants. 



Bulbs are starting to come into the garden centres at this time of year, and September is the main month for planting them, with the exception of tulips which wait until October. If you are not planting bulbs straight away, store them in a dry, dark place with plenty of ventilation, using paper bags not polythene..





Now is the time of year to raise the blade of your mower and rake the lawn to remove excess debris, and runners of creeping weeds. Apply an autumn fertiliser which you will find in abundance at your local DIY store. Read instructions carefully if you have animals or children.



This month I usually fill the greenhouse with cuttings of plants such as shrubby salvias, artemisia, sage, hebes,  pelargoniums and anything else I may lose  through frost over winter.  I keep the greenhouse doors open, and shade the cuttings from the sun until the weather turns damper and cooler, then transfer them into the conservatory before the first frosts, to be overwintered.



Complete the annual cutting of older hedges of all types. Towards the end of September is a good time to plant evergreen hedging shrubs and conifers but the site may be prepared now with lots of compost added.


Fruit and vegetables

Prepare the ground for autumn fruit bush planting and make sure to harvest any produce in the vegetable garden before the birds and rabbits get it. 


Flowers for cutting

Keep cutting flowers for the house and at the same time dead-head any faded blooms. Chrysanthemums are delightful this month as are dahlias which together with some greenery will give you a good floral display for indoors.


Herbaceous plants

Take time to dead-head any flowers that have faded, and cut down any plants that are finished for the year. At the end of this month any bedding plants left in the borders should be removed to the compost heap and replaced with biennials such as wallflowers, sweet william and stocks. 


Ponds and water features

Clear your pond of any decaying vegetation and cover the pool with netting to prevent falling leaves from going into the water. Reduce the quantity of fish food you give your pond fish. You will see that as the weather cools and the days shorten they will want to feed less and less. By the end of October they will have stopped feeding altogether for the duration of the winter. Depending on the weather, water features can be left going until the end of October.



Give bird feeders a good clean, by knocking out any congealed peanuts, and washing in a mild disinfectant. From now until the spring months make sure you always have a constant supply of bird food available to attract a wide variety of birds to your garden. They will also come to rely on you for food so do keep them topped up in all weather..


In the next four editions of Gardener`s Diary,  I will be generalizing about gardening and giving you seasonal ideas. This will take us through till February, at which time I will resume the "Jobs for the month" and "Spotlight" sections...



Some seasonal web sites of interest to gardeners:



The living theatre of plants and people
The Eden Project is a gateway into the world of plants and people. A meeting place for all to discover how we depend on plants and how we can help to manage and conserve them for our mutual survival

Gardening is an important part of many people's lives. You don't have to give up gardening because of accident or illness, the onset of disability or the problems associated with growing older. The information on their website is designed to provide you with the information to Carry on Gardening.

Carry on Gardening was initiated by the horticultural charity Thrive and is funded by the National Lottery Charities Board.  It brings together information on easy ways of gardening gathered over 23 years by Thrive and research carried out since the early 1970s by Mary Marlborough Centre, Oxford, on tools and equipment for disabled and older people.


Caution is still the order of the day for the countryside..


If you are visiting a National Trust garden or any other garden or event, do check that they are not closed due to Foot and Mouth disease. More and more footpaths and other venues are being opened but, for general advice and up-to-date details of restrictions, look up the website for the appropriate local authority who will have information about closures. Alternatively look at the following websites:   and  who will have Foot and Mouth up-dates. 


Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary



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