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ENGLANDS EXPERTS TIPS FOR SEPTEMBER
By Pat Hubbard

Abutilon Megapotanicum

Apple Blossom

September is usually seen as the beginning of autumn, however more often than not it can be a very warm and balmy month, full of rich colour in the border. Hardy Fuchsia's and many perennials such as Penstemons are still in full flower and will continue until the first hard frost of autumn.

Remove any faded flower stems from perennials, which are looking past their best. If any have seed-heads, which could provide food for hungry birds in winter, you may want to leave them until spring before cutting back. There are varieties whose stark, bare outline can give ornamental value in the autumn and winter garden, especially when covered in early morning dew or frost.

Large clumps of perennials, which have finished flowering can be lifted and divided now. Discard the old woody centre parts and replant the younger growth from the outside of the plant.

The ground can be prepared now for planting soft-fruit, such as gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries and blackcurrants. They perform better when the ground has been well weeded and prepared at least a month in advance of when you wish to plant. Dig a trench and enrich the soil with compost or well-rotted manure, fork this in and fill in the trench. Spread a general purpose granular fertilizer over the ground before planting in November.

Winter pots and baskets can be planted up now, use interesting foliage plants such as Cordylines, Carex Evergold, Heuchera Palace Purple, variegated Ivy, small Conifers and Euonymus, fill in gaps with winter flowering pansies or heathers to give a splash of colour.

Keep deadheading roses; they will continue to flower if the weather is mild. Leave the flowers on any varieties that produce hips in the autumn, as they can be very attractive and colourful when most flowering plants die down, as well as providing a valuable winter food source for birds.

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