The gardening coach: September
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In the lingering heat of early autumn it’s thankfully hard to imagine the gloomy days of winter and it seems that the colour and warmth in our gardens will last forever. Sadly it won’t, and a bit of advance planning and planting now will make those winter months easier to bear, writes Judy Shardlow
The beautiful Silk tassel bush (Garra elliptica) is one of those shrubs that brings the wonderland into winter. This large upright evergreen shrub, is laden with stunning 20cm long silky catkins from December to February. And although it needs protection in colder or exposed locations, it will thrive when planted against a warm south-facing wall. It will also grow quite happily against a north-facing wall, creating a dramatic frozen waterfall of catkins, the perfect backdrop for the winter garden.
Its glossy evergreen leaves have the added value of softening brickwork or fencing panels. It’s a shrub that needs plenty of space, so make sure to allow for future growth when planting, although it can be lightly pruned in spring to maintain shape. Under-plant it with beautiful vivid alpine Iris reticulata Harmony and you will have a winter border that will lift your heart on those leaden February days.
September top tips
Plant hyacinth bulbs Try hyacinth Woodstock – a scented burgundy colour. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil, for stunning results in March.
Plant Rhubarb Crowns can be ordered and planted in the autumn. Varieties like Champagne are perfect for forcing to get a sweet, early crop in the spring.
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Love your lawn Summer can be hard on lawns, so give them some care. Scarify to remove any moss and aerate to improve root health and space. Then apply an autumn lawn feed which will help roots develop and prepare for winter.
Plant spring bulbs For alliums, narcissus and others, look at online bulb suppliers. They guarantee good size and quality. Bulb collections are a great option for easy, colourful schemes.
Plant garlic bulbs – easy to grow in good soil in full sun. There are lots of different varieties available from specialist online suppliers, including giant Elephant garlic.