The Gardening Coach: September

Grasses look stunning back-lit by the low sun

Grasses look stunning back-lit by the low sun - Credit: Archant

Judy Shardlow gives a guide to what you can be doing in the garden this month

Beautiful grasses, including the ever-popular pennisetum genus, are the stars of the autumn garden. Cultivars like pennisetum alopecuroides Hameln and Little Bunny are relatively compact, unassuming grasses for most of the year, but in September, they throw out masses of beautiful fluffy tailed seed heads. These always look stunning at the edge of a border back-lit by the low light of the autumn sun as their delicate filaments are caught by the breeze.

If placed in the middle of a border with taller shrubs around them, their semi-transparent beauty and fluffy seed heads can become lost and breezes do not reach them so easily. So be bold and put individual plants close to the front of borders, ideally on the edge of an outward curve in a south or south-west facing garden.

Taller, denser grasses also look stunning planted in larger groups, adding strong green structure in borders. In my garden (pictured left) I use beautiful tall miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus with verbena bonariensis and sanguisorba officinalis Red Thunder to create a grass screen between two areas. The effect is gorgeoous – a moving swathe of green, studded with small purple and burgundy flowers, which lasts well into late October. September gardening tips

Plant bulbs Beautiful bulbs, like crocus chrysanthus Cream Beauty, or stunning white narcissus Thalia, can be planted now. Specially-treated ‘forced’ bulbs planted now will flower beautifully indoors in the depths of winter and include hyacinths, amaryillis, and narcissus (paperwhites).

Sow beans and peas Hardy beans and peas can be sown now, while soil is still warm. Try broad bean Aquadulce Claudia and pea Douce de Provence.

Plant borders Container-grown perennials, woody shrubs and evergreens should be planted now while soil is warm and moisture levels are increasing.

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Guard your fruit Birds, mice and even dogs like to nibble juicy apples, pears and plums as they ripen. You can protect individual fruits with small zip-lock bags.


Judy Shardlow is an RHS award-winning garden designer and coach

01438 833858

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