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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 I get the secateurs out...  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



Seventeenth edition  - September 2002

With all the rain we have had, it has not been necessary to water the garden too much during the summer months, and it is amazing to see how resilient the summer bedding plants are, for one minute they are totally bedraggled and sodden, the next flowering their heads off again. 

When we moved to our present house three years ago there was nothing flowering in the garden with the exception of a few bedding marigolds, which I thought were exceptionally pretty, and saved some of the seed to produce plants for the next year. The subsequent years saw their numbers increasing and this year I have edged the long borders with the plants grown from the seed of the original six plants. There are about two hundred, they look absolutely splendid and cost me nothing but time.. This month I shall talk a little bit about harvesting and storing seeds so you can have a glorious floral display in your garden and save money in future years at the same time.

Remember last month I told of our canine visitor who trashed my garden, and my smug final words on the subject - "lesson learnt"?  I didn`t apparently learn anything from the experience, because when my sister phoned to say her one year old black labrador was looking for a new home, we were at her house collecting him and his belongings before she could change her mind.. Oh well, I can always write about nice gardens can`t I ? 

Make the most of the last few weeks of summer by visiting some late flower shows, having a barbecue, or just plain lazing in the garden, for all too soon the days will be shorter and summer will be just a memory..  Me, I am following the dogs` example and watching the butterflies flying haphazardly around the garden. 

September Spotlight


This is the right time of year for collecting seeds from many flowering plants, which will give you a colourful floral display next year and save you money at the same time.


Jobs for the month - September

House plants

You will need to cut down on watering and feeding gradually this month, until the winter minimum is reached. Ensure plants are in tip top condition and sited correctly, which will see them through the winter months.


Mower blades should be raised a notch to give a longer cut, and the lawn will benefit from a good raking to remove any loose cuttings and runners from creeping weeds. Finally apply an autumn weed and feed, taking care to follow instructions regarding the composting of treated clippings. September is also a good time for remedying any deficiencies that come to light in the summer months.

Herbaceous borders

Continue as last month - with dead-heading, weeding and hoeing, to keep the borders looking neat. You can still sow many biennials straight into the ground, such as Cornflowers, Foxgloves and Sweet Williams, and they will get away to an early start next year. I collect seeds from the various plants I want, jumble them all up and throw them into the borders. The result is great and I can always thin out those I don`t want. 


This is the main month for harvesting your crops, preferably on a dry day, and preparing them for storage over winter. A good month for making tomato chutney once you have stripped all the plants of their fruit. It is possible to `sun-dry` tomatoes in the oven and overwinter them! 



Aquatic plants will start to die down this month, leaving the pond looking a bit worse for wear. I usually bite the bullet and give nature a helping hand by cutting foliage down before it becomes an eyesore. I can then put the wire mesh lid over the pond to keep the falling leaves from adding to the rotting plants and producing gases that can harm the fish. Oxygenating plants can go too as they are more hindrance than help in the winter, for they become inactive as oxygen-producers, but contribute to the production of toxic gases as some of their growth decays. 


September - the month of the sleepy wasps and small animals getting ready to hibernate. I have got the bird feeders and bird table out of the shed and have cleaned them up ready for another season of feeding the bird population. I make "fat balls" for the birds by gently heating lard, mixing in bird seed and forming balls when cooled, finally putting them in the netting that oranges and onions come in, and hanging them around the garden..  


A few late garden shows to visit:

RHS London Flower Shows


Sussex Garden show

Sat/Sun 7th & 8th September

Malvern Autumn Garden & Country Show

28-29 Sept 2002

Click here for flower shows in all other areas of the UK:


And some web sites of interest to gardeners: 

Alan Titchmarsh MBE, TV gardener, writer, broadcaster and thoroughly nice person. Just a few choice words to describe the peoples` favourite TV gardener. See his website....



Thompson and Morgan: a growing resource for gardeners worldwide. The site includes the international online seed catalogues, the young plants catalogue (UK only), the wholesale seeds catalogue, together with the award winning Germination Times and a host of other useful information.


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. 


Visit the Eden Project 


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.






Good reading:-


"The Yellow Book" contains information of all Gardens of England and Wales open for charity, and can be bought priced 5 from National Gardens Scheme

National Trust Gardens Handbook is 6.99 and the new edition is out in May  Telephone 01394 389 950 or see their website

RHS Garden Finder is 12.99 from Dorling Kindersley



Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary




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