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Autumn is in the air

Summer is drawing to a close and Autumn is just around the corner – what a perfect time to think about your garden successes and mentally plan for next year.


It’s also around now that you can start harvesting some seeds from your favourite plants.  Why buy packets of seeds every year when you can simply collect them from your own plants or those of your friends?.


So, thrifty tip for the month is … save seeds from summer flowers.  Growing plants from your own seeds is satisfying and exciting.  Not only is it easy to do, but it saves a bit of cash producing flowers for the garden that you can share with friends.


Always collect seeds from healthy plants on a dry day.  Pick seed heads as they turn from green to brown then lie them in a tray in a greenhouse or on a warm windowsill or airing cupboard until the seedpods open easily.  You will need to remove husks and other debris before storing.  To store seeds until spring, use small paper packets, label them and keep in an airtight container. Some seeds are easier than others … for instance columbines, love-in-the-mist, poppies and foxgloves you can simply tip, shake or split the seed capsule onto a piece of paper and collect the seeds.  Smaller, finer seeds that are harder to extract can be rubbed through a fine sieve over a piece of paper.


Seeds are often collected as a kind of plant insurance policy.  Some plants, like Salvias, are not completely hardy – so it’s good to save some seeds in case your original plants don’t survive the winter.  Salvias really come into their own at this time of year though, when their spikes of flowers combine beautifully with other classic later bloomers such as Asters.  And Salvias tick a lot of boxes – drought tolerant, low maintenances, pest and disease resistant as well as being loved by pollinators.  They grow best in full sun and well drained soil and as a general rule, the smaller the leaves, the more drought and wind tolerant they are.   Relative new comer ‘Amistad’ with rich purple flowers that show from May through to November has quickly become a best seller; the inimitable ‘Hot Lips’ with its red and white flowers is a hardy, compact, scented, bushy plant; whilst ‘Viola Klose’ has radiant violet flower spires and is an excellent alternative to lavender.


Asters, like Salivas, also have long flowering period. Sometimes known as Michaelmas daisies, Asters are much loved by pollinators and gardeners alike due to their daisy-like flowers and late-season colour. Most are perennials lasting years in borders and beds.  However, during prolonged dry spells, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) suggests additional watering as the height of an aster can vary from year to year according to the amount of water it has received.

Other jobs on the RHS Gardener’s Checklist for September include…

  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs
  • Pot up Christmas hyacinths
  • Leave perennial seedheads for wildlife
  • Lift tender plants and pot up, overwinter in cool place
  • Harvest and store potatoes
  • Harvest apples
  • Sow winter salads
  • Take house plants indoors
  • Divide alpine plants
  • Create some autumn interest containers