The arrival of the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness means that if you’ve been taking a bit of time off to enjoy yourself, you really ought to be easing yourself back into something of a gardening routine.
The ornamental garden. Continue to plant bulbs, biennial bedding plants and start planting lilies, peonies and red hot pokers. Many other herbaceous subjects can be planted this month, and early-flowering ones divided and generally tidied up in the herbaceous border. Plant rock plants, conifers and other evergreens, as the sun is much cooler and the mists often found at this time of year will help to re-establish them before the really hard weather comes.
Continue to sow hardy annuals for next year in favourable positions.
Take hardwood cuttings of all types of deciduous woody plants this month.
Towards the end of the month, lift tender perennial bedding plants such as geraniums, begonias and fuchsias and bring into the greenhouse or frost-free light shed to overwinter.
Clear other annuals and bedding plants as they pass their best so prepare the ground for spring bedding. Rough-dig ground not needed for bedding and leave to weather over winter.
Finish pruning ramblers and summer-flowering shrubs.
The lawn. This is a busy month for the lawn, getting it in trim after the rigours of the summer. Give a good raking to get rid of dead moss, thatch, clippings and other rubbish, a thorough spiking, and a top dressing with a mixture of fine soil, peat and coarse sand. Overseed thin lawns and bare patches and give a high-phosphate autumn food. Sweep off or scatter worm casts when they appear.
Raise the mower blades from now onwards when cutting the grass.
Sow new lawns — they will grow rapidly before winter in the warm soil.
The water garden. Plants will be starting to grow less quickly now, so it is getting too late to stock new pools satisfactorily. Any dead bits you can see in the pond ought to be removed. Fish will not be feeding as much either, so give food less often. Remove any early fallen leaves from the pool or they will decay and pollute the water. If your pond is very small, you could consider making a timber frame and attach to it some small mesh wire or plastic netting to keep out leaves.
In the vegetable garden. Plant out spring cabbages.
Sow winter spinach, Japanese onions, and lettuces in frames.
Protect winter lettuce and endives with cloches.
Dig land as it becomes empty.
Clear haulms and garden rubbish. Green stuff can still be composted although it will take longer to break down. Burn diseased material if it is safe and convenient to do so. Shred woody prunings.
Finish picking outdoor tomatoes, cucumbers, marrows, courgettes, peppers, aubergines, etc., before the frosts.
Earth up celery, leeks and brassicas.
Harvest and store root vegetables.
Lift main crop potatoes.
Fruit. Plums, peaches, and nectarines will be ready for picking early in the month, as will the very earliest apples and pears.
Finish summer pruning of top fruit as soon as possible, also pruning of soft fruit. Raspberries can still have their old wood cut out and new canes thinned.
Pick blackberries and autumn-fruiting raspberries. Do not prune autumn-fruiting raspberries till the spring, then they should be cut right down to ground level.
Under glass. Continue caring for and picking greenhouse crops. Sow cauliflowers for growing under glass. Watch the ventilation on cool nights. Take late-flowering chrysanthemums inside.
Generally. September is a good month to undertake any form of constructional work – concreting, paving, walling, etc. It is still warm enough for the job to be comfortable, and it will have settled down well before the hard frosts start. Also fences and other timber can be treated with suitable preservatives.