September not only marks the beginning of a new term, it is also the second great harvest month in the hedgerow year. It is the perfect time to turn your attention to the outdoors and start planning your flower garden.
The Hedgerow in September
This is the second great harvest month in the hedgerow year. The hedgerow is dripping with abundant fruits turning fat and shiny, and the hazelnuts are maturing and dropping to the ground. Even the honeysuckle has switched from flowering to berrying. The bramble harvest is in its final throes, and the leaves start to take on shades of autumn, as do the leaves on the rowan trees. Crab apples start to fall. The small mammals – wood mouse, bank vole, hedgehog, common shrew and hazel dormouse – scurry about laying food aside for the winter or feeding themselves up for a long sleep. Sometimes hedgehogs produce a second set of hoglets in September, but these babies will struggle to fatten up in time for winter hibernation and may not make it through the winter, snaffled hazelnuts or no. Fiery milkcap mushrooms may appear near the roots of hazels.
There are increasingly fewer butterflies around, though you may see small tortoiseshells and red admirals. Some caterpillars start to form chrysalises in which to overwinter around now, while most others prepare to overwinter as caterpillars. Wasps, which have been feeding on aphids all summer and being rewarded by their queen with sweet treats, are kicked out of their nests around now, and so they hungrily seek out sweetness in hedgerow berries and fallen crab apples.
On warm autumn mornings, tiny money spiders climb to the top of the hedgerow, spin a line and let it catch the gentle breeze, then lift off to fresh territories.
September’s Flower Garden
A big arrangement of fennel seed heads and sunflowers; a couple of fruiting stems of bramble, some crocosmia and a few poppy seed heads; a single dahlia flower, floating on the surface of a small bowl of water.
Jobs in the Flower Garden
• Plant pots of miniature irises now to give yourself late-winter floral treats. Plant a handful of bulbs of Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’, I. histrioides or I. danfordiae in each of a few small pots, and keep them indoors somewhere cool and bright. They will flower in February and you can enjoy them on your kitchen windowsill.
• Sow an annual meadow. It doesn’t need to be acres. If you have a bare patch and would like to try to fill it with annual meadow flowers next year, this is the moment. Sow seed across it and then leave it to germinate. You shouldn’t need to interfere with it, but do keep an eye out for weeds and remove them.
• The cracks in your path, patio or steps will get filled one way or another – it will be by weeds if you leave them be, so sow seeds in them now instead. Push compost into cracks and sow erigeron, thyme or marjoram now – or buy small plants of non-flowering chamomile ‘Treneague’, stuff them into the cracks and keep them well watered.
More seasonal tips in Lia Leendertz’s The Almanac