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
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
Collect seeds from aquilegia...
Take foxglove cuttings