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September sees the days shorten, the winds pick up and the soil moisten again. This month is great for lifting and dividing herbaceous perennials as the soil is still warm and there is moisture in the ground, which provides the perfect conditions for root development. Lift clumps of plants and split them with a spade or two forks, discarding old, unproductive parts. Replant the new clumps after incorporating bone meal or compost into the soil.
Cut back herbaceous perennials as they turn brown and die down. Leave rigid stems such as sedums to provide winter interest.
Plant spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, muscari and crocuses, planting the bulbs at the correct depth, usually 2 times the depth of the bulb.
Start to clear any fallen leaves from your beds and borders and add them to you compost heap or leaf mould pile, this produces great humus and stops them harbouring diseases in the beds.
It is also a good time to give your lawn a bit of TLC. Start by scarifying it. This involves removing moss and thatch by vigorously raking. You can add the waste to your compost. Then aerate the lawn by spiking it with a fork. Both scarification and aeration can be done mechanically to speed things up. The lawn will also benefit from the application of a high potassium lawn fertilizer, which encourages strong root growth ahead of the winter months.
Plants of Interest this Month
Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) a vigorous, very hardy herbaceous perennial with interesting orange fruits that look just like Chinese lanterns. Will grow in full sun and partial shade in most well drained soils, except clay.
Pineapple Lily (Eucomis bicolor) an unusual, large, autumn flowering bulb, with racemes of star-shaped pale green and maroon flowers, topped by bright green bracts. Needs a sheltered spot in full sun, growing in most soils except clay.