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Last Month in My Garden, September 2017

The last day of August was fine and sunny but started with a morning mist and a temperature of 2oC. Fortunately, September 1st was a little warmer and we have had no frosts, although there has been plenty of cloud and drizzle to dampen enthusiasm. The fine days have become increasingly appreciated. Some observers have suggested that the season is three weeks ahead of usual but I have found it variable. Apple ‘James Grieve’, which I usually pick in early September, was ripe in mid-August and other apples have also been early; however, my ‘Conference’ pears began to drop in mid-September, as usual. Some flowers have been unexpected. Primulas often have a few flowers in September and I have ceased to be surprised by autumn Helleborus x hybridus but I do not remember Choiysa ternata blooming or Viburnum farreri this early. In contrast, Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Hortensia’ is putting on a late show. I have cut down the old 2 m stems and now have a tidy plant 70 cm.

An unexpected late
Leucanthemum superbum
‘Shapcott Summer Clouds’

Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Hortensia’

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Another yellow daisy which did not perform as usual was Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’. I have a planting about 15 years old and another 5 years old. The first is near a fence and trees and suffers in drought but has flowered well this year. The newer clump is in a more open position and has previously shown all the vigour one would expect from replanting; this year it did not appear! I do not know why; perhaps the spring shoots were eaten by rabbits. The clump had shorter plants to hide its stems so I was not aware of a problem until nothing appeared at flowering height. It was in a wide bed which is a bit of a jungle by September but I shall have to investigate when I clear the bed in a few weeks time. Could it have been affected by honey fungus?

The middle of September saw my Symphyotrichum novae-angliae start to flower seriously. Most are much shorter than usual this year – 1 m or 1.3 m, rather than 1.5 m. I do not know whether it is due to drought earlier in the summer or congestion; however, the effect is good because I can look down on the flowers. In some parts of the garden (not my Plant Heritage National Plant Collection®) they have sometimes self-seeded. Seedlings that come up among other plants can remain hidden until they are quite tall; when I do spot them, I tend to be lenient and leave them. This year there are far more than usual and the result is certainly colourful. There are shades of purple but also deep violet, crimson and sugar-pink, including a slightly salmon-pink similar to ‘Harrington’s Pink’; however, I have never had a seedling similar to ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’. Some seedlings are better than named varieties.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
‘Andenken an Alma Potschke’

Symphyotrichum laeve ‘Les Moutiers’

Some asters have made clumps that are too large but I have not got around to sorting them out! One is Symphyotrichum laeve ‘Les Moutiers’, which looked glorious in the last week of the month. I have had seedlings from S. laeve and transplanted some (with larger, bluer flowers than ‘Les Moutiers’) two years ago. They went into a bed that I was replanting and have done well, although some purchased plants did not overwinter (or did they come up in the spring and get devoured by slugs?). One successful one was Symphyotrichum ‘Superstar’ from Elaine Horton.

Another daisy which appeared at the end of the month was Leuchanthemella serotina, 2 m tall and really fresh-looking. It grows near Alcalthaea ‘Parkallee’. This came into bloom later than usual but has been flowering all September. The disappointment is that it has rust; I have grown it for several years and it is usually rust-free or develops a little later in the year. It is a hollyhock relative and I wonder if they are having a particularly bad year. (I do not have any.) Gardening is never dull!

Leucanthemella serotina

Alcalthaea ‘Parkallee’

Sept. 30th;
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae seedlings
in the background
with Viburnum farreri behind


Margaret Stone

Posted by Margaret Stone

Vist Margaret's garden on one of the NGS open days.

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