Time to start thinking ahead


There are still jobs to be done in September, but it’s also the month when we begin to prepare for next year, says gardener Pete Harcom

Believe it or not, preparing for spring is what’s on the cards in September!
Spring bulbs – daffodils, crocus and hyacinths – wallflowers, pansies and forget -me-nots can all be planted from now through into the autumn. They all give an early boost for insects, birds and small animals in the spring, and play a vital role in helping a healthy garden thrive.

  • Jobs for September:
  • Collect ripe seeds from your favourite flowers and store in labelled envelopes, ready to sow in spring. No, you really won’t ‘just remember’ if you don’t write it down now!
  • Trim conifer hedges to control their height.
  • Leave sunflower heads in place and let them go to seed for birds to feed on.

The birds and the bees
Attracting butterflies and insects into the garden can be very rewarding. As September is a great month for planning ahead, I’ve pulled together a list of plants which can help:
Verbena bonariensis – I can personally testify that this plant is an exceptional attraction for butterflies!
Lavender – always a great pollinator for honey bees.
Honeysuckle – not just for the bees, this is a lovely plant for scent in your garden.
Hawthorn – another great early flower which will help give our insects a boost (and the birds love the berries too).
Sedums – never overlook the little guy; these can attract multiple butterflies and other insects at the same time!
Vipers Bugloss – you’ll have seen it on your walks, it is a native wildflower and bees go wild for it, but do note that it is poisonous.
Allium – with their large ball-shaped heads of flowers, they make a real statement as well as attracting insects.
Snapdragon – it may be short-lived, but it’s an easy-to-grow perennial (though it’s often used as an annual). The snapdragon conjures up images of typical English country gardens, and, just like the foxglove, it’s fun to watch bees climbing in and out of the flower heads.

The buddleia problem
Commonly known as the ‘butterfly bush’, it has become increasingly clear that buddleia davidii can be highly invasive. It produces lots of small, light seeds which spread extremely easily. It can grow in many places – even in cracks in buildings several floors up.
Buddleia davidii does attract many butterflies, but if it is at the expense of rare invertebrates that would otherwise be living there, it is preferable to plant non-invasive flowers to provide nectar for the butterflies..
That being said, if you like your buddleia davidii, you don’t have to remove it! Do prune it severely as soon as the flowers have faded – that means it doesn’t have a chance to spread its seeds – and dispose of the pruning carefully. When your buddleia dies, consider replacing it with non-invasive shrubs.
Also try buddleia x weyeriana, which has sterile yellow flowers that won’t set seed (a much better option in my humble opinion!).
Also – some varieties of cotoneaster have become invasive. Check with your local garden centre for the most appropriate varieties.

Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre


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