Spruce up your garden
Is your garden looking a little straggly? Gardening expert Lucy Hewett looks at a few ways to perk up your plot.
Things in the garden can start to look a little shabby and frazzled as summer draws to a close. If you feel your garden is past its best there are few things you can do to give it a boost.
Cut back astrantia, pulmonaria and hardy geraniums, which can get a bit straggly. By giving them a good cut back and a water you will encourage fresh new foliage, make things look a lot tidier and perhaps even be rewarded with a late flush of flowers.
I know I’ve said it before but if you keep deadheading roses, dahlias and other summer perennials, more buds will come and you will have continued flowering right up to the first frosts.
If your containers are packed solid, they will need extra watering, so clear out anything that has had its day and replace with some fuchsias, pelargoniums or autumn pansies with a touch of new compost and water-retaining gel to perk things up
Where early summer bulbs such as oriental poppies have died down in flower beds, you can fill gaps with pots filled with dahlias or fuchsias or lilies for instant impact.
If you feel autumn appeal is lacking in your borders, how about investing in a physalis alkekengi Franchetii which has orange lanterns that also look good dried for floral decorations.
Michaelmas daisy Monch a very long flowering aster has good foliage and large violet-blue daisylike flowers on stems reaching 90cm.
Rudbeckia, or black-eyed Susan has golden yellow daisy flowers with dark centres and bristly stems.
Sedum spectabile Autumn Joy flowers from August to November, starting in pink and maturing to copper. This is a must have and teams well with grasses.
And don’t forget the Japanese anemone with either white or pink saucer shaped five-petalled flowers and contrasting yellow stamens.
Grasses look great in the autumn sun, try Pennisetum orientale, reaching 60cm in height it has arching stems with soft bottle brush tops.
. If you have a greenhouse, growing your own spuds in pots for Christmas is pretty easy, but you need to start now. Use a container at least 30cm deep and wide with drainage holes in the base.
Add a layer of potting compost mixed with garden compost around 10cm thick for 30cm deep pots and plant one to three tubers per pot, each with around 30cm of space. Cover them with 15cm of compost.
As the foliage develops, earth up the potatoes with further compost until the pot is full to within 5cm of the top, leaving a lip to aid watering. Keep the pot well watered and feed with a general purpose liquid feed.
Keep the greenhouse frost-free as the season develops.
The tubers can be left in the pots until needed during the festive season.
Autumn colour with black-eyed Susan, left, and Japanese anemones