Alan North – September the time to plant Spring flowers in your garden

PUBLISHED: 12:20 10 September 2017

Audley End Gardens. Picture: ALAN NORTH/ENGLISH HERITAGE

Audley End Gardens. Picture: ALAN NORTH/ENGLISH HERITAGE

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Alan North, head gardener at Audley End House, gives you his top tips for September activity in the garden.

We celebrate the arrival of Autumn this month with our annual Apple Festival on September 23-24. This popular event brings live music, local food, tours and talks of the garden, children’s activities, apple pressing and apple identification/tasting

If you have an unknown variety of apple that you would like identified please bring it along to our specialist team. In addition, there will be a fabulous selection of produce to buy, including Audley End apples and pears along with some very tasty Audley End apple juice. There is something for the whole family – we hope to see you then!

September brings a more relaxed feel in the garden with the weather becoming cooler and days shortening. The garden begins to slow down and the fight to keep your plants watered or deadheaded has eased and a new wave of tasks is awaiting us:

• The combination of the warmth of the soil retained from the summer months along with the promise of rain make this a perfect time for planting perennials and shrubs. These conditions enormously help establish the plants and prepare them for winter.

• Order spring flowering bulbs. Each year at Audley End we plant more than 15,000 bulbs including daffodils, crocus, hyacinths and tulips. The early colour these bulbs deliver in the Spring is hard to beat! Whether planting in beds, lawn or containers I advise planting bulbs about two to three times their own height and making sure the soil has good drainage, adding a handful of horticultural grit to improve drainage. Plant daffodils in late September or early October whilst tulips can be planted later in the year in November.

• This is the perfect time to give your lawn a little renovation. If the conditions are moist enough consider some aeration or scarification to improve the vigour and health of the lawn. Follow this up with a balanced lawn feed to give the grass a boost and strengthen the roots.

• Wallflowers are one of my favourite spring flowers, offering the most wonderful rich colours, along with one of the best-ever scents. They also make superb cut flowers. September is the ideal time for planting out wallflowers. They can be bought from garden centres either singly or, very cheaply, in bundles of young plants.

• Keep harvesting crops. If you have a glut of fruit and veg try freezing, drying, pickling, and storing so that you can benefit from them later on. To test if sweetcorn is ready, pinch a kernel – it will release a milky sap when ripe. If the kernels are starchy you’ve left it too late, if they’re watery they need a little longer to ripen.

• Harvest apples. To test when apples are ripe gently lift them in the palm of your hand or give them a gentle pull – they should come away easily.

Want to know more about garden history? Visit the link to read about an interesting and fun day coming up at Audley End soon: audleyend.eventbrite.co.uk

I hope to see you in the garden soon.

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