Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 40 - September 2014
What to do now

Ornamental plants

  • Continue to deadhead flowers to keep displays going as long as possible.
  • This month is your last chance to take cuttings from tender plants.
  • Take cuttings from new shoots on lavenders.
  • Collect seeds from your perennials and annuals to sow next year or swap with friends.
  • Cut down the flowered stems of spent perennials.
  • Prune wisteria sideshoots back to 15-20cm if you didn't do it last month.
  • Prune rambling roses.
  • Remove any suckers growing from the base of roses.
  • Fill in gaps in your displays with autumn-flowering bulbs and bedding (such as nerines and gentians).
  • Start to plant out your spring bedding, including violas and wallflowers.
  • Small evergreen shrubs, conifers and trees can be moved over the autumn.
  • Order bare root trees, shrubs, hedging and roses for autumn/winter planting.
  • Plant hyacinth bulbs by the middle of the month to have Christmas flowers.
Fruit and veg
  • Sow lettuces, spring cabbages, winter spinach, cauliflowers, Chinese cabbages, pak choi, hardy spring onions and rocket.
  • Plant hardy onion sets for early summer crops.
  • Sow green manure (eg forage rye) in empty beds to suppress weeds and provide nutrients when dug back in in the spring.
  • This month you should be able to harvest autumn raspberries, blackberries, early apples, Conference pears, sweetcorn, marrows, courgettes, beans, lettuces, rocket, spring onions, Chinese leaves, oriental radishes, autumn cauliflowers, cabbages, pencil leeks, maincrop potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic and globe artichokes.
  • Prune out fruited canes from blackberries and loganberries.
  • Dig up chicory plants for forcing in a dark shed.
  • Keep an eye on the night time temperatures and cover crops to protect them from the cold.
  • Pot up or dry herbs for use over the winter.
General tasks
  • Start to bring tender plants under cover this month as overnight temperatures start to dip.
  • Clean any shading paint off your greenhouse now to let more light in.
  • Raise the height of your mowing cut and start to mow less frequently as grass growth slows.
  • Last chance to trim hedges before the winter.
  • Create a wire mesh bin to store fallen leaves and turn them into a useful mulch.
  • Cover ponds with netting to stop leaves falling into them.
Plant of the monthEchinacea purpurea 'Rubenstern'

Echinacea purpurea 'Rubinstern' is a daisy-like herbaceous perennial which brings a splash of late summer/autumn colour to beds and borders. The bright pink petals (actually ray-florets) surround a deep red centre which provides nectar and then seeds for wildlife. Grows best in sunny sites with well drained soil. Find out more...

Problem of the monthApple scab on fruit

Apple scab is a fungal disease affecting the leaves, stems and fruits of apple trees. Blotches appear on leaves, which then blister and can cause early leaf fall. Swollen areas occur on twigs and the fruit can be affected by dark blotches which become corky and cracked (although they are still edible). Good hygiene (eg clearing up fallen leaves) and judicious pruning of affected stems can help control the spread. Fungicides can be used if necessary. Find out more...

In the news

First UK watermelon crop

Joe De Pascalis, a 19 year old production horticulture student, has produced the UK's first watermelon crop while on a work placement. The crop, sown in May and harvested last month, is being sold in a trial by local Tesco branches.

Wakehurst achieve a flowering first amidst a car parking headache

Wakehurst Place believes it has a UK first, as the gardens have managed to get Banksia marginata to flower outdoors. The shrub or large tree is a member of the Protea family and is native to SE Australia and Tasmania. Meanwhile a new car parking policy, which means that National Trust members are charged £10 for a day's parking, has sparked numerous complaints. A petition against the fee has reached 1,385 signatories. 80% of the garden's visitors are NT members and therefore receive free entry. The new parking charge is an attempt to offset the £1.4m funding deficit Wakehurst Place is currently facing.

'Horticouture' springing up under the Shard

A new 'pocket park' has been designed for the London Bridge area, under the Shard, by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and TV garden designer Joe Swift. The Urban Oasis Garden, opening in October, will be created in unused space around the Greenwood Theatre.


Perfect plants for a north facing wall

A north facing wall might not appear to have much going for it as a planting spot. It receives little sunlight and, depending on the direction of the prevailing wind, little water. However it's often these dreary locations where we want to add a little colour and interest. And if you choose your plants carefully then that's exactly what you can do.

Camellia japonica 'Virginia Carlyon'Charming camellias

Camellias are an excellent option for growing against north facing walls, so long as they are in a fairly sheltered spot. Flowering in spring, camellias are available in many different colours, from brilliant whites to deep scarlets.

A north facing position will prevent the morning sunlight burning the flowers and should keep the display going for longer. Camellias are available in a wide range of sizes, from petite 1m shrubs to larger specimens which will reach over 10m tall. Shown here is Camellia japonica 'Virginia Carlyon', which grows to 10m.

Valuable viburnums

Viburnums are attractive, evergreen shrubs which will grow happily in a north facing location. They have dark black/blue berries which provide a useful food source for birds. Viburnum tinus 'Variegata' has yellow edged leaves which add year round colour. Growing to 2.5m height and spread, it bears white flowers in winter and spring.

Viburnum x burkwoodii is an alternative of about the same size. Its fragrant flowers are a dainty, pink/white colour. Viburnum x juddii has the same pretty flowers, but is a smaller bush at just 1.5m height and spread.

Colourful creepers

Deciduous creepers will rapidly cover a north facing wall with colourful foliage, although they can be very vigorous, so don't plant them in a small area! They have insignificant flowers in summer followed by black/blue berries in the autumn.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia, the Virginia creeper, and Parthenocissus tricuspidata, Boston ivy, both grow up to 20m in height and are invaluable for covering large walls. The palmate leaves become vibrantly coloured in autumn, the Virginia creeper with bright oranges and reds, the Boston ivy with a more subtle, purple colour.

Parthenocissus henryana, the Chinese Virginia creeper, is less vigorous, growing to 1m tall. The leaves are a deep bronze/green colour with very attractive, bright silver-white veins.

Pretty pyracanthas

The pyracantha, or firethorn, has year round interest and will happily grow in any aspect, including north facing walls. The evergreen shrubs bear white flowers in early summer, followed by brightly coloured berries in the autumn, which persist into the winter. The berries, a useful source of food for birds, are bright yellow, orange or red, depending on the variety chosen. Pyracantha will grow 3 to 5 metres up a wall. The stems have sharp spines, useful for garden boundaries and also providing a safe nesting spot for birds.

Pyracantha 'Soleil d'Or' is a good choice for a north facing wall. It reaches 3m in height and 2.5m in spread and has golden-yellow berries which will brighten up any shady area.

Climbing clematis

While most clematis prefer a sunny spot, Clematis montana, and the larger flowered Clematis montana var. grandiflora, can be grown against a north facing wall so long as the soil is not acidic (it can also be container grown). This deciduous climber will grow to 12m tall and 4m spread and bears white flowers in early summer.

Hedera colchica 'Sulphur Heart'Interesting ivies

Ivies are often undervalued, viewed as a nuisance in most gardens. However, in a dark spot an ivy can be invaluable in bringing a splash of light and interest. As well as clinging onto a wall they will grow horizontally, providing ground cover.

For a large area Hedera colchica 'Sulphur Heart', shown here, is an excellent choice. Growing to 5m tall, the large leaves are yellow at the centre, becoming green at the margins. It's easy to grow and can be pruned at any time of year to control the spread. If you have less space then Hedera helix 'Goldchild' will grow to just 1m high. The leaf margins have a thick edging of yellow, lightening up the darkest corner.

Top it off with a tropaeolum!

The flame flower, Tropaeolum speciosum, will reach 3m height and spread and has bright red flowers through summer and autumn. This deciduous, twining climber will grow up a wall with support, or is an excellent choice for growing through a hedge (such as yew). It prefers its roots to be in cool shade and won't grow well in alkaline or chalk soils, though it can be planted in a container so you can control the growing environment more easily.


What's on this month

Make the most of the last few weeks of summer by visiting these gardening events:

  • 2nd September - Garden Tour, Apley Walled Garden, Bridgnorth, Shropshire.
  • 2nd to 7th September - RHS Wisley Flower Show, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey.
  • 4th September - Guided Garden Tour, Pentillie Castle & Estate, Saltash, Cornwall.
  • 7th September - National Orchid Show, Durham University Botanic Garden, Durham.
  • 12th to 14th September - Harrogate Autumn Flower Show, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
  • 18th September - Seed Saving Course, Ryton Organic Gardens, Coventry, Warwickshire.
  • 20th September - The Big Dig Edible Gardens Open Day, community gardens around the UK.
  • 21st September - Kitchen Garden Open Day, Chiswick House & Gardens Trust, Chiswick, London.
  • 27th & 28th September - Malvern Autumn Show, Malvern Showground, Worcestershire.