The garden seems to be full of butterflies after a summer when we have hardly seen any. The buddleia is full of them, tortoiseshell, red admiral and I am sure I saw a painted lady whizz by.
Now I have started to see caterpillars – the largest- a hawk moth caterpillar, about 10 cm long and curling up to show its'eyes' to frighten off predators. One other I have not identified all yellow spines and black dots down its side, we also saw a vapourer moth caterpillar- a very striking thing with tufts and yellow and red spots, where the adult moth is a dull brown thing!
September can be a busy time in the garden, getting ready or winter but also thinking ahead to spring.
Jobs to do in the garden this month:
- Plant out biennials
- Divide and replant perennials to ease congested areas.
- Sow hardy annuals for early flowering next year like marigolds, cornflowers, poppies.
- Collect and dry seed
- Prune climbing /rambling roses once they have finished flowering, remove fallen leaves from the base to reduce black spot. Don't put them in the compost.
- After we have had some rain start planting new perennials, trees and shrubs as the soil is still warm.
- Continue to feed tomato plants until the fruits have finished growing and ripening.
- Keep an eye on brassicas for butterfly eggs and caterpillars- covering them in fine mesh seems the only way to stop them getting shredded! It also stops the pigeon feasting on them,
- Sow Swiss chard, winter spinach, and you could try broad beans and hardy peas, I am not sure whether it is worth it as if we have a bad winter they suffer, and I have found an early sowing of broad beans in a greenhouse, if you have one, is another way to get an early crop. This year my peas kept being eaten by mice, in the greenhouse and in a cold frame, in the end I sowed them in the ground, sprinkled chilli powder on them, and covered the ground with mesh- that stopped the mice!!
- Direct sow a row of rocket. It seems late to still be sowing seed, but salad rocket does not bat an eyelid at the cold or wet.
- Sow coriander now and you may be harvesting until April or May next year.
- It's urgent to get wallflowers in place now. These spring-flowering biennials need to get their roots down well before flowering.
- Sow yellow rattle.This is key to the success of any wild flower patch as it reduces the vigour of certain grasses, and fresh seed works best.