WHY SOW GLUM?

Sum­mer is com­ing to a close and au­tumn looms... but it’s still an ex­cit­ing time in the gar­den as you col­lect the seeds you need for next year’s plant­ing

The Chronicle - - Your Garden -

AU­TUMN is loom­ing... and it’s time to col­lect seeds for next year’s plant­ing

The Au­gust bank hol­i­day week­end an­nounces that sum­mer is draw­ing to a close, and soon it will be back to school sea­son with its au­tum­nal tints in the trees.

But it’s still a busy time in the gar­den, so there’s plenty to keep you oc­cu­pied.

Many plants are at the peak of their en­ergy – grow­ing, bloom­ing or set­ting seed – mak­ing it a good time to take sam­ples and in­crease your stock.

Seed col­lec­tion is best done on a dry day. Arm your­self with some small brown en­velopes and a pen to la­bel what you col­lect.

Seeds for spring sow­ing can be stored some­where cool and dry, but not in your air­ing cup­board which is too warm.

Some seeds, such as as­tran­tia, fox­glove, an­gel­ica, aqui­le­gia, meconop­sis, prim­ula, del­phinium and or­laya, can be planted straight away.

You can now take cut­tings from many ten­der herba­ceous peren­ni­als, in­clud­ing salvias, os­teosper­mum, fuch­sias, pelargo­ni­ums and agy­ran­the­mums. Se­lect a piece of new growth which isn’t flow­er­ing and cut just above a leaf.

Gen­er­ally, the rule for cut­tings is to do it early in the morn­ing and im­me­di­ately pop the cutting into a plas­tic bag to re­tain mois­ture un­til you pot them up.

How­ever, with pelargo­ni­ums you can let the cutting dry out a bit for a cou­ple of days so that the end of the cutting forms a bit of a cal­lus. This will help your cutting sur­vive. You can also do heel cut­tings now – for ex­am­ple, with rose­mary you pull a side shoot from a main stem with a small heel of bark at­tached. Ten­der in­door plants, such as African vi­o­lets, Be­go­nia rex and suc­cu­lents, can be suc­cess­fully raised by cutting a leaf and in­sert­ing it into com­post. Car­na­tion lovers can in­crease their stock by us­ing the tech­nique of lay­er­ing.

Choose a healthy side shoot which isn’t flow­er­ing, bend it over with­out snap­ping the stem and peg firmly into the ground with some wire. Cover the stem with soil, and wa­ter in.

As the ground is nicely warm from the long days of sum­mer, it’s a great time to get plant­ing for next year. Get your bi­en­ni­als into their fi­nal flow­er­ing po­si­tion.

Bi­en­ni­als are those plants which have a two-year cy­cle – putting on leaf growth for the first year and send­ing up a shoot of flow­ers the next, af­ter which they set seed and die.

Ex­am­ples are wall­flow­ers, sweet Wil­liams, hon­esty, fox­gloves and for­get-me-nots. Ei­ther you will have sown their seeds ear­lier this sum­mer or if not, you can buy stock from your lo­cal nurs­ery or gar­den cen­tre.

Peren­ni­als which have fin­ished flow­er­ing are of­ten at re­duced rates, and at this time of year they can be di­vided up into a cou­ple of smaller plants, giv­ing you even bet­ter value.

Keep an eye out for late sum­mer flow­er­ing peren­ni­als, such as rud­beck­ias, chrysan­the­mums and asters, which could give you lots of colour right through to Novem­ber.

If you still have time on your hands, get out your se­ca­teurs or shears. It’s al­ways sad to re­move the fad­ing blooms of laven­der but it’s es­sen­tial to stop the bush get­ting strag­gly.

You don’t need to throw the clip­pings on your com­post heap – keep them in­doors while they dry out and en­joy their scent.

You can also prune climb­ing and ram­bling roses if they have fin­ished flow­er­ing, and it’s your last chance to sum­mer prune back those long wispy bits of wis­te­ria.

Take rose­mary cut­tings

...and as­tran­tia

Col­lect seeds from aqui­le­gia...

Take fox­glove cut­tings

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