September Days

After a hot, dry September the garden is tired.

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First ground frost, 25th September

The meadow is spent; spring and summer wild flowers are over and have set seed.  It will be mowed next week.

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The Kidney Beds

But there is still some colour at the Priory – although any remaining flowers in the kidney beds have had scant help from me recently.  These beds are messy and unloved.  Having decided that they need a revamp, and squeezed for time, I’ve neglected them to concentrate on other parts of the garden.  They are the furthest borders from the house and rarely visited – even by me.

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The long borders look better.  I’ve kicked myself hard for not Chelsea-chopping the sedums.  I always, always chop them in May.  Except this year.  I can hardly blame them for flopping all over the place.

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Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’

I know Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ is ubiquitous but then that’s because it is bright, cheery and so floriferous.  (Remind me to look up ubiquitous.  And floriferous).

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Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’

After several years of splitting and re-planting, I have several large patches and they will certainly figure in the new planting scheme.

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Salvia patens

Also in the long borders is Salvia patens.  I drone on about this favourite every year and I’m sure you will have bought one by now – if only to shut me up.  Like my other blue salvia – Salvia uliginosa – it isn’t reliably hardy for me.  I lift, pot up and store in the cold frame.

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Poppy Ladybird

This is a first for me – Poppy ‘Ladybird’.  I sowed seeds to fill some gaps and will do so again.

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I sprinkled a packet or two of Nigella seeds in gaps throughout the long borders too. I’ve taken to carrying a couple of seed packets concealed about my person in mid summer.

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Cutting back plants hard when they’ve finished flowering is a well-known trick because it works.  A white campanula has returned with new leaves and a second flush of white delicate flowers.

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Silene fimbriata

I hacked Silene fimbriata back in the early summer and it too has come back.  It’s second flowering is sparser but, as we edge into October, I’ll take what I can get.

I still have a few roses flowering, distractedly, here and there.  (You can click to enlarge the above images if you like and if anyone can identify top right, I’d be grateful).

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Japanese anemones are reliable, late summer flowers but they don’t stand tall and aren’t satisfied with the space alloted them.  (I like their languid behaviour really and carefully twist sideways when passing).

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Anemones and Thunbergia alata

An annual climber I have every year is the Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata).

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Thunbergia alata

I’ve always grown it as an annual but I’m going to try overwintering this one.  A bigger plant next spring might cover more of the pergola.  Nothing ventured.

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Abutilon megapotamicum

Another climber I’ve used for a couple of years is Abutilon megapotamicum.  It isn’t hardy either – I’ll dig it up and store under glass soon.  Like the thunbergia it flowers constantly throughout the summer.  Ideally grow in full sun but this one has been hood-winked and makes do in shade.

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Erigeron karvinskianus

I use Mexican fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) increasingly at the Priory.  It flowers non-stop from early summer and self seeds generously to give plenty of new plants.  It wants a free-draining site and full sun but, hood-winked again, these steps are in partial shade.

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I also use it to cover some barren soil beneath a fig tree (full sun in the afternoon).

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And on a ruined wall and brickwork where it sits quite happily in full shade for most of the day.  So don’t worry too much about baking it in full sun.

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I’ve dead-headed, weeded, cut back, tied-in, watered and mowed for months now.  It’s been a good summer – but a long one.  I’m not looking forward to the clearing of the beds, puddled lawns, foggy breath and the onset of winter. (Though a crumpet will be welcome).   But do you know what?  I might allow myself a slight grunt of relief when the tropical border is bowed and browned by frost, the grass stops growing and tender plants throughout the garden messily, noiselessly collapse.  And when they do, I plan on doing the same.

The garden is tired and so is the gardener.

56 thoughts on “September Days

  1. Looks perfectly, gently Septemberish. Love it. I must have a go with the black eyed susan. Does it mind about soil? Mine is pretty thin and stony so erigeron loves it up here but not everything does. I know exactly what you mean about the tired garden and the tired gardener, although as others have said the garden doesn’t look tired. I get all gardened out by this time of year and this year I am knackered even though I haven’t been gardening. There is almost a relief sometimes when the garden begins to shut down, things stop growing and the jobs dwindle to something manageable, and best of all, the bindweed dies!

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    • Sadly the bindweed doesn’t truly die though, does it? Just preserves all its energy for a fresh assault in the spring. As for the thunbergia, mine grows in awful soil – a hard pan but I do feed it and the planting hole has grown progressively bigger over the years. No sign of jobs dwindling yet – and I’ll soon be up to my armpits in leaves. Dave

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  2. The long borders look fabulous, well all the garden does. I’m a huge fan of erigeron. It’s such an easy going but pretty and adaptable plant. I’m grabbing my plant notebook and jotting down a few plants – that silene is so gorgeous and I’ve never grown the black-eyed Susan before. I’m not looking forward to tidying up the allotment which has been a bit neglected recently and even though I haven’t gardened as much as I would have liked this year I think we all need that rest and break that winter brings to recharge our batteries. It won’t stop me whinging about being stuck indoors over winter though. 😉 Lou

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    • HI Lou, the silene is lovely – I bought it at an open garden years ago and moved it to the Priory when I started. Doesn’t self seed (oddly) but the clumps increase and can be easily split. Neglect creeps up on you doesn’t it? Turn your back for five minutes ….. D

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  3. So many comments….I finally got to the bottom…Really good to have a virtual walk around the priory and the garden is looking very lush considering the time of year. Worth all your hard work. My salvias surprisingly stay with me and I never lift or protect them. Must be a bit more sheltered here.

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    • Hi Sue, good that salvias overwinter in your garden. When I lived at the top of the hill above the Priory, I grew certain plants quite happily (olive and ceonothus for example). But when I tried them in the valley, they quickly died! It gets very cold and wet down there. Dave

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  4. Erigeron is fabulous, I use it here and it flourishes even in drought years, this year it has gone crazy. I love plants that are no trouble and just keep giving their best. The Verbena works so well on its own, again simple planting looks perfect. It must also give you time to work on the more complicated areas.

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    • I can imagine that the erigeron would very much like your conditions, Christina. You have to love a plant that just gets on with it, shrugging off pests, disease and drought. Like the verbena in fact. The latter just needs a little weeding and pruning (to keep the path clear). D

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  5. Erigeron is a new favourite of mine, such a cheerful little doer, I’m hoping it will seed itself around the front garden in due course. No frosts here, and no rain either, in fact, apart from the softer light, cooler mornings and the arrival of the annual sequin-fest on telly, it could be summer. And I’m tired and wanting crmpets. And rain. And a bit of a rest. But I love your long border, and frankly even rather like the soon-to-be transformed kidney beds! But Stacy’s right, your rustic corner with erigeron is most excellent. Hope you get to put your feet up soon!

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    • The daisy is a little doer, isn’t it? All mine came from one plant bought four of five years ago at Great Dixter – where it grows in brick-paving above the meadow – so I don’t think you should have any problem with it self-seeding. And the thing about Stacy is – she is always right. (Except for stopping Microcosm, that is). Dave

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  6. Mmmmm, crumpets. Definitely a reward for hard work.
    (btw, garden looking gorgeous, will be snaffling lots of ideas, thanks for reminding how much I love Silene fimbriata, must purchase for next year.)

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  7. It’s the time of year to let it go a bit. When I see the sleepy bumblebees overnighting it in blossoms here and there I can relate quite well.
    There will be plenty of time to get back to work when frost comes and the leaves fall…..
    You didn’t go soft in Germany did you?

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  8. You deserve to be able to noiselessly collapse, crumpet in hand, Dave, after having achieved such spectacular results. An amazing garden has its amazing gardener…it looks like destiny to me. Really beautiful.

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  9. Hi Dave, is the rose you’re trying to identify a climber or shrub? Is it once, repeat, or continuous flowering? Does it have any scent? Are the buds yellow, the young flower pale yellow, then the fully open flower white – or is that just the light in the picture? How vigorous is the plant/what size is it at the moment? Sorry for all the questions but I might be able to offer some options. The garden looks brilliant! I find September a great month, so many different forms and textures, then you throw in mist and dew covered cobwebs, love it!

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    • Hi Jason, thanks for taking the trouble (though I’m sweating a bit – this feels a bit like an exam). It flowers continuously and very generously, is a shrub (though I’m training it up a wall), does have yellow buds and I think the young flowers are pale yellow too. After a couple of years it’s about 6ft tall. It doesn’t suffer from rust or black-spot – which I love. Annoyingly I can’t remember whether it has a scent. I know it came in a David Austin pot and that it cost about £4 in a sale. (I do like a bargain). Having had a quick look in the DA catalogue and online, I wonder whether it is R. ‘Sally Holmes’? Dave

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  10. Absolutely lovely! And the dreaded September gardening malaise is certainly understandable. We never dread the first frost but think of it as welcome relief…at least until the seed catalogs began arriving a month or two later and we’re ready to dive back in again. Cheers, Ben

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  11. I hadn’t heard of the common name Mexican fleabane for Erigeron but think I’ll stick to the cute and friendly ‘seaside daisy’. My Sydney garden is very shady and it does so well I really have to keep it under strict control or it takes over. But of course a warmer climate probably makes a big difference. Anyway, you’ve inspired me to try it under a huge liquidambar where the soil is very barren indeed. (To date I have just mulched there to make it look a tad more appealing.)

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  12. You’ve got some of my favourites here, Salvia patens and the Erigeron to name but two. I grew Abutilon megapotamicum against a south facing wall in Buckinghamshire and it did survive a winter, no thanks to my sheer ignorance not realising it was tender. I must try it again in Devon, it’s a beauty.

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    • Hi, having said that abutilon grows perfectly well in shade, I do wonder whether it would do even better in full sun. Might try it next year. And I’ve just checked the RHS site. You might be able to leave it outside all year in Devon. Maybe. Dave

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  13. I did not know about cutting sedums back in May, I’ll have to remember that. I have Erigeron growing in the cracks in the patio in the front garden where it escaped from a pot. I never knew it would grow in the shade and I like it under your fig tree. I think I will try it under a tree too (you’ll never notice I’ve copied you.) The garden looks lovely; seasonal not tired. Amelia

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    • I wrote a post about sedum chopping a couple of years ago and said I ALWAYS do it. Well, I didn’t this year and now I’m reminded why I should. Certainly will do it again next year. Good luck with the fleabane. D

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  14. Lovely post again.
    I grew Ladybird poppies for the first time last year and they were brilliant; tried again this year and they weren’t. I have no idea what was different except this was a better spring and summer – I did grow them in different places so maybe that was it. Oh well next year might work again. Glad you featured the Mexican Fleabane as I have often wondered what it is – sounds like it might be worth a try in my garden, though my other half would probably think it was a daisy and pull it up!

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  15. Wow a frost already, brrr! It did feel cooler here yesterday but no sign of old Jack thank goodness. My salvia patens finally gave up the ghost and didn’t return this year; suspect the wet winter got to them, I’ll sow them again next year, such a lovely colour at this time of year! Your rudbeckia are glorious too, they’re something else that just disappears here *sigh*

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    • Hi sara, we often get frosts earlier than the surrounding countryside – but luckily it was just a light frosting and no damage done. Wonder why your rudbeckia disappears. They seem pretty much problem free for me. D

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  16. There’s something wonderfully frivolous and happy-go-lucky about fleabane. I love it in the “Rustic Composition” photo especially. Even in my tiny little garden I am ready to be done with watering and the rest of it — I can only imagine how ready you must be for a breather, Dave. (And a crumpet.) Glad you were able to recreate this lovely post.

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    • It’ll only be a brief breather, Stacy. I’ve got a lot planned for this autumn and winter! Pleased you like ‘that’ shot – to be honest I hadn’t really appreciated the overlooked little corner it sits in until it caught my eye the other day. Dave

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  17. Sheer delight from beginning to end – the garden and your blog! So many ideas to plunder too. How do you keep your Verbena at a respectable height? Does it get the Chelsea chop?

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