September Garden Activities

Naked Ladies in a California ditch
photo by SVSeekins

One day I wake up & the sky is blue but there’s a chill in the air.  It’s time for long pants… maybe even socks!

It’s coming

  • Although it’s not officially fall until September 22, the leaves start falling earlier.  We’ve got a big stucco wire cage in the side yard just waiting for the raking to begin…
  • Bring houseplants back inside after checking closely for any unwanted pests.
  • Our average first frost is November 5, but really we could get an early cold snap.    Begonias & Dahlias will collapse & turn black in response.  Some folks dig them out & bring them inside for the winter.  I’m happy that our garden is well-drained, so there’s less chance of them rotting in the ground… And I mulch heavily in the winter to protect them from freezing… so they’re fairly safe.
    (Also, I’m lazy that way.)

Irrigation

WS - September colchicum
photo by SVSeekins
  • There might have been a little rain this month, but it’s only enough to ease up on the watering a little bit
  • Colchicum are gorgeous, but flatten quickly when wet. I’m particularly careful with the watering wand around them.

Seed Saving

  • After the flowers finish up, the plant sets seed. Before the pods open I like to pick & distribute them into areas where more are welcome next year
    eg. snapdragon… goldenrod… lychnis…
  • Dead-heading can spur plants into producing even more blooms.  (Dahlias especially will peter out if not cut)
  • In other cases, like shasta daisies, dead-heading is key to stopping its offspring from taking over the world!
  • In even more other cases, like with the lavender, I sheer off the finished blooms just for a tidied look.
  • And now it’s time to think about leaving some of the blooms on the plants, to produce bird feed for the winter
    ie: golden rod… dusty miller… yarrow…rudbeckia…

    fall cyclamen, garden Victoria BC
    photo by SVSeekins

Planting

  • Bulbs!  Woo hoo!  Go nuts…   find some little spaces between  all those shrubs & perennials to plant something to delight in winter & early spring.  The best selection is in the garden shops by mid month.  I like to get them into the ground before the summer perennials die back completely & disappear.
  • Any of the spring blooming perennials that have overgrown their space are ripe for dividing once the ground is moist enough to dig comfortably
    eg. iris, red hot pokers… peony… iris…
  • Planting trees or shrubs now, while the soil is still warm, gives their roots time to establish before the dormant season.  They’ll need regular watering until the weather gets really wet, but will be that much further ahead than if I wait until the spring to move.

Pruning

autumn color, garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins
  • As the roses finish up, prune them back by 1/3 for the winter.  Hold off until the forsythia blooms in March to prune fully.
  • Now’s also a good time to tidy up the summer flowering shrubs
    eg.  weigela…   escallonia…  butterfly bush…
  • Wisteria can be cut back to side branches with 2-3 leaves for better spring flowering

Tools

Lords and Ladies seedheads in September, garden BC Victoria
photo by SVSeekins
  • Keep the lawn mower blades sharpened & the proper bits lubricated as the machine will be busier this month.
  • Keep those pruners & clippers sharp, too!
  • It’s best to clean pruners between bushes. Spray with a 10% bleach + water mixture. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.

Lawns

gary oak acorns, Victoria BC garden
photo by SVSeekins
  • The lawn is green again, but the falling leaves are brown.  The clippings are a great combo for the compost bin.
  • I’m happy to keep the lawn sprinklers programmed for 1 inch of water every two weeks through mid September.
  • Keeping the mower blade above 2 inches will give the grass’ roots a little shade so they don’t dry out so quickly
  • Fall fertilizing grass calls for low nitrogen & phosphorus numbers, and higher potash numbers to encourage strong root growth
    eg. 3-6-36 or 0-3-30

Veg / Berry Patch (& Orchard)

wine grapes, gardens Victoria BC
photos by SVSeekins
  • It’s harvest time for tomatoes!…  and apples… and blackberries… grapes,  corn… pumpkin,… squash… beans… salad greens… beets…. cabbage… kale…  Time to get busy canning & preserving.  
  • Dig the potatoes as the foliage dies back.  Leave them to dry indoors if it’s wet outside.
  • The herbs are ready too!  Cut 6 inch young stems, bind into bunches, then store them in a paper bag in a warm dry place for a couple of weeks to dry
  • Cut the top-most stem of the tomato plant & remove all remaining flowers.  Remove more of the leaves around the tomato fruit so it gets more sun for ripening.  The improved air circulation around the plant helps avoid disease too.

    Connie's Dahlias near Nanoose Bay, garden Victoria BC
    photo by SVSeekins

Ponds & Water Gardens

  • Keep the leaves out of the water.  They’ll mush up & cause all sorts of mess in pumps.
  • Move water lilies into deeper water

Seasonal Color

A full crop of apples garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

trees: chestnut…  apple… fig… pear…
shrubs: hydrangea… roses… summer heather… Oregon grape…  hardy fuchsia… penstemon… butterfly bush…  lavatera… snowberry… Himalayan honeysuckle…
perennials: chrysanthemum… rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan)…  asters… echinacea…. agapanthus…  sedum autumn joy… golden rod… lords & ladies…  yarrow… valerian… astilbe…  hickory… Japanese anemone…  begonias… dahlias… salvia… geranium…  begonias… sea holly… erysimum (wall flower)…
ferns: sword… giant chain… deer… licorice…
bulbs: kaffir lily…  nerine lily…  colchicum (fall crocus)… fall cyclamen…. tigridia…

Planning & Events

Chestnut in seed pods, garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

Opportunities to admire (or show off) the goodness our gardens can create:
First weekend in September is the Saanich Fair
Second weekend is the  Sooke Fall Fair
Third weekend is the Luxton Fall Fair … AND  the View Royal Garden Club’s Fall Flower & Vegetable show

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© SVSeekins, 2014

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