September can be a sad month, 30 days of drizzle and mists without the mellow fruitfulness so loved by the poet Keats.
Occasionally, there are lighter moments, when the sun shines and the air is warmed, fooling bees and other insects into believing summer is back.
These are days to treasure, days when the garden can become a little clichéd haven of tranquillity before autumn succumbs to winter. So take the opportunity to enjoy those plants which flower late or just continue to bloom. Roses, for example.
Given good weather – and the occasional feed and bit of dead-heading – and some roses will still be flowering at Christmas.
Many people don’t realise that roses are a tough breed; they have evolved to take just about anything the gardener and nature can throw their way, and they respond with some of the best flowers known to man. But go that little extra and treat them with consideration, and roses should repay your kindness with even bigger and better blooms.
Keep them tidy and you’ll encourage new, clean foliage; continue to deadhead all the spent or damaged blooms by either snapping off the head about 2cm (1in) below the flower head or snipping off the complete flower truss, using secateurs, and you’ll encourage even more and later flowers.
Prune climbing roses and rambling roses once they’ve finished flowering (unless they are repeat-flowering varieties, in which case leave them until later in the year), and tie in any new stems to their supports.
Some varieties of ramblers produce plenty of new stems from the base; in this case, take out whole branches that have flowered – new stems will provide adequate flowering potential next year.
Other varieties produce little new growth from the base and these need to be pruned back less vigorously – simply cut back stems to a point just above where strong new growth starts.
Jobs to do
Pull or cut off the foliage of maincrop potatoes at ground level three weeks before lifting them. This will prevent blight spores infecting the tubers as you lift them.
Help pumpkins ripen in time for Halloween by removing any leaves shading the fruits.
If you want to stop debris accumulating in your pond, cover it with a net.
Keep feeding and watering French and runner beans to keep them producing. Continue harvesting little and often to prevent them setting seed.
Divide past-their-best herbaceous perennials to keep plants healthy and vigorous year after year.
Clean out cold frames and greenhouses ahead of autumn sowing and growing.
Prune any late-summer flowering shrubs, such as the rock rose.