With the arrival of Autumn, I thought I would share a garden update of how things have been looking here at HPH during September. The mornings have certainly been getting a little colder but there have been some lovely skies, sunny spells + evening sunshine to enjoy this month. As I’m writing this, it’s actually a very mild 19°C + I’m perched on my chair having a coffee in the garden!

What a lovely present a pick + mix box of bulbs like this would be for a plant lover!

As the seasons change + bulb planting is soon to commence here in the UK, it feels very strange not to be taking advantage of those tempting emails offering free delivery, flash sales + Spring bulb deals teasing me from my inbox. I was buying potting supplies last week + stumbled across a bulb ‘pick + mix’ display… which appeals to me so much more than sweet treats any day of the week! It was at that point I realised that I had to resist because I’m going to be moving again so planting bulbs in a place that will become unoccupied when I leave seems like a bit of a waste. In previous years before I had a bit of garden space, I would do a bit of lasagne (layered) planting in the pots on my balcony garden, so this might still be an option. Saying that, my larger planters are still in storage, so that will be a project to consider another day I think!

I’ve mainly been focusing on seasonal houseplant care over the last few weeks (getting your houseplants ready for Autumn post linked here!) but as a general overview in the garden, I’ve been having a bit of a tidy up + shift around outside as well. My tomatoes are just about coming to the end, the runner bean plant too. I love runner bean foliage so I will miss this pot climbing all the way up my washing line pole! My herbs have been getting a little overgrown but I’ve been using good amounts of parsley + rosemary in my cooking this month. September saw me get the slow cooker back out so a hearty supply of herbs is basically essential for that type of cooking.

I planted the pelargoniums in the border to free up some pots for last minute houseplant repotting + I do like a pop of pink! I know not all pellies are winter hardy so it’ll be a bit of an experiment — I’ve nowhere to store these plants (I don’t bring indoors because of my houseplants + possible pest issues… it’s not worth the headache) so for now they are making the border look somewhat colourful. The other blooms I’ve been loving are my shasta daisies. I really would like to try bring this plant with me in a pot to my next place, so will be cutting the plant back to the base after the blooms fade + when things start to get frosty, adding a layer of mulch over the top to give some added protection.

As promised in my last garden post, it’s about time for some sweet pea photo spam. You might remember that I started growing these from seed on my windowsill at the start of lockdown + I shared this process with you too; I know quite a few of you tried this along with me! They are a ‘flower favourite’ in the gardening world + my personal favourite as a nostalgic plant my grandparents grew every year. You might remember me saying in last months post that they had been really slow to start, but they have certainly made up for it over the last few weeks! Some of the plants got some decent lengths on their stems which I was really happy about, but I know that this is more achievable if you sow your seeds in Autumn ready for planting the next Spring. As I moved in February, this was not an option for me — I sowed mine pretty late in Spring but they still ended up dishing out a copious amount of bountiful blooms that I have been so thrilled with! It’s so true that the more you pick, the more flowers come! So for my fellow sweet pea lovers, I hope you enjoy seeing some of my blooms:

At this point I thought it was worth mentioning how to save your seeds if you’ve not done this before. As the plants start to fade + dry, you’ll notice the seed pods appear which, if you were cutting your plant regularly during flowering, you wouldn’t have seen many of. The seed pods appear after the flowers have bloomed + dropped. At this point in the season however, leaving the seed pods alone + observing them go crispy + brown is a very important step if you intend to harvest the seed pods for next years crop.

The trio of photos below show the different stages in the pod drying out — I opened up the pod to the right for the purposes of this post, but with my others, I’d leave it a while longer. You want to wait until the pod is darker in colour but not to the point where it falls off the plant. If you remove the pods too soon, the seeds can sometimes be less likely to germinate. Collect the seeds + lay them out on an old tea towel/ kitchen roll to dry out for a few days, then store in an envelope/similar in a cool dry place until you are ready to plant them.

Sunflowers are fast-growing, fun-looking, statuesque plants to grow + I’ve really enjoyed watching the process this Summer! They aren’t difficult plants to grow (they’re great to plant with kids) + sometimes you just need to enjoy those fuss-free flowers. Some of my plants now reach the top windows on the first floor of the house! I’ve been enjoying working at my desk near the window + noticing people stop + smile at the row of happy yellow plants looking back at them as they pass by. I’ve grown some in pots + some in the ground + the ones in the ground are understandably taller. But the potted plants are still healthy — just smaller in scale.

There was the most amazing pink sunset one evening this month!

Something I’ve been looking forward to from the start is the process of saving the sunflower heads as they start to dry for the birds! There are LOADS of birds that live in the hedge next to the border + over summer I’ve enjoyed watching them have dust baths, drink water from my drip trays + generally make quite a commotion throughout the day. So this process seems like a nice way to give them something to enjoy into the cooler period. As you can see, some of the plants are starting to droop now + the photo on the left shows the point mine are at. The middle + right photos show my one plant that snapped in the strong winds a few weeks ago + has been slowly drying out ever since. The middle photo shows how the plant should look when the head is fully dry + ready. You can either leave your sunflowers in place to do this, but most gardeners cut the stem a few inches down + leave them to dry out in a cool, dry place. Make sure they are not where birds can get at them + that they don’t rot from too much moisture.

Ah lets talk about my oxalis. As I’ve shown this Summer, I’ve had my first experience of rust on my oxalis triangularis plants this year + I’ve recently had a few questions from some of you about how things are looking now (thank you!) so here’s a little September update.

After cutting back my plants completely in July, August saw some new growth pop up which was completely healthy! I’ve been keeping my plants in a more sheltered position out of direct light + am pleased/relieved to report that all of my 3 pots are growing steadily + the little pot is actually starting to bloom again! I’m interested to see how much more this plant can grow before dormancy starts to make my plants get a bit sleepy! If you want to read my dormancy care guide I’ll link it here. *FYI, for any of my other oxalis posts, you can just search oxalis in my HPH search bar.

Here’s my list of gardening jobs I intend to tackle before the month is out + it might encourage you to do some of these tasks too if your garden needs it!

  • Chop off the flowers from my lavender plants + tidy them up. These should last over winter like this + go a lovely silvery grey colour in colder weather… better than an empty plant pot! They’ll be ready to bloom next year.
  • Trim back any of the overgrown herbs + use or freeze what I cut.
  • Cut the hedge back a bit
  • Take down tomato plants + runner bean plant, clean up
  • Mow the lawn again
  • Dead-head the pelargoniums in the border
  • Wash any unused pots + store together
  • Cut back the sunflower heads + leave to dry out before putting back out for the birds to enjoy
  • Harvest my sweet pea seeds to plant next year
  • Wash down the patio, table + chairs etc.

I thought I’d tie up this blogpost by mentioning how much I’ve been enjoying making a HPH wish-list of plants + doing some sketching as I plan out some hypothetical planting ideas for my next place. Anyone else do that or draw their imaginary garden? When I’ve done some more drawing I will put a post together + share my initial ideas which you might find interesting as an offering of some planting inspiration. Whether it’s in a notebook, sketchbook or on pinterest, it’s quite a fun way to be creative + think about gardening when the outside is looking just that little bit more Autumnal.

Posted by:Laura HPH

One thought on “In the garden: September / sweet peas + sunflowers

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