Gardeners’ Blog – September 2016

Now that September is upon us, you will start to see the summer bedding replaced with winter bedding on your next visit. It is always sad to see the summer colour disappearing, but it will soon be replaced with sensational autumn colour!

We will be seeing a change on the Loudon Terrace as the large box spirals are exchanged for smaller ones. The existing spirals will be transplanted to the bandstand bed where they can make a bold statement for much longer – September is a good time of year to carry this job out as the soil is still warm enough to encourage root growth and there will be enough moisture around to stop the plants drying out.

The new Alpine House is up and running with a changing display of flowering cyclamen and nerines – if you pop in regularly, you’ll see the changes.

Hedge cutting seems never ending but will finally be finished this month – it always takes longer than expected!

Bare treated areas such as the Herbaceous Border will be replanted, and a huge array of plants have been gathered and nurtured in the nursery. As the final application of weed killer takes effect, the bed will be dug over and compost applied before the plants are placed in situ – we’re hoping for some damp weather when this has been carried out to help the plants settle in. The bare area beneath an old established yew tree to the rear of the aviary and the grass garden will also be planted up.

Now is also a good time to treat Japanese Knotweed. We have left ours growing all year as the stems need to be strong enough to be injected. Industry experience shows that injecting the stems in September is a very efficient means of getting the trans located weed killer to the roots where it is more effective than a foliar spray at killing the whole plant. Of course, this needs to be carried out by a certified professional.

Now is a good time to take cuttings off your favourite tender plants. Pelargoniums (geranium), Fuchsia, Plectranthus (Coleus)and Salvia are examples of plants which would not usually survive the British winters if left outside. Take cuttings from healthy, non-flowering stems around 10cm long, cutting the bottom just below a node. The node is where the leaf joins the stem and is the area with the highest concentration of naturally occurring rooting hormones called auxins.

After, remove all of the lower leaves to prevent rotting, these can be potted into a free draining compost mix such as 75% multipurpose compost and 25% sand or grit or perlite. Water well and place in a warm shady place, watering only when the compost is dry.

By taking cuttings of these now, they will have rooted well and a few weeks after being potted up separately, they will have made a decent size plant to overwinter in a cool, but frost free place during the winter.

An area of the main lawn is being re-graded, soiled and reseeded as September is an ideal time to do this work. This needed doing as a large stump left over from felling a tree was causing problems for the mowers. The stump has finally started to rot away and was easily removed. Soil reclaimed from the Alpine Yard will be spread over the area and then grass seed sown. The area will be fenced off temporarily so the seed has chance to germinate, so if you see a fenced area, please help us to help the grass by avoiding them!

Wayne’s favourite plant for September is the Tapeinochilos ananassae, which can be found in the Tropical House. This is a relative of the spice ginger and its common name is Indonesian wax ginger. This name describes the beautiful, glossy, sealing wax-red, pineapple-like inflorescence, which contains many individual flowers.

Our final task of the month will be to clear away all of the fallen leaves, now that autumn is upon us. See you in September!