16 Things I Am Doing In My Garden This September & October

Sep 16, 2020

The garden is receiving less and less light, the mornings are a bit chillier and a few leaves on trees and shrubs have begun to turn red and golden. Yep, autumn is coming, and I excitedly look forward to shifting gears and planning ahead for a beautiful next gardening season.

From adding more color for the early spring season from bulbs, planning the succession of blooms in my borders and boulevard, and tending well to plants which need to make it through likely a cold winter, fall in the garden involves work, but also dreaming and hoping for what is to come if all is tended to well.

Today I would like to share with you 16 tasks I have on my schedule for the upcoming six weeks.

1.Improve my soil – add compost

With my boulevards which I hope to gradually create cottage garden style borders, this year was all about gaining control over the weeds and deciding what I wanted to keep. Having put mulch down around the existing plants, I dedicated my first summer to deciding how and what I want to plant all along the frame of my house.

In order to give future plants the best chance of growing, I will be placing compost on top of the boulevard area, as well as my other borders.

2. Helping my tomatoes ripen before the first frost

Taking Monty Don’s advice, I will be trimming off all of the leaves on the tomato plants to give the existing tomatoes the most access to the limited sun they have in hopes of their ripening before the first frost.

(below: my tomatoes are in great need of pruning – this Big Beef took off in just the past two weeks, and needs me to start the pruning of the leaves ASAP.)

3. Adding hydrangeas

My long-term goal is to create a garden that provides color and interest from early spring through autumn and even through the winter with evergreens. One addition this fall will be a handful of phantom hydrangeas (picture at the top of this post) which turn from white to a soft, rusty blush for the autumn season which is currently the season in which I need more color.

4. Visiting garden centers to scoop up sales on perennials

Currently, many garden centers and nurseries are offering significant reductions on perennials. Planning ahead helps me confidently purchase plants in bulk and save a good amount.

5. Planting spring bulbs

There will be one or two weekends this fall that will be in celebration of the upcoming spring as I will be outside digging endless holes in the soil, plopping in bulb, after bulb, after bulb. From more daffodils, snowdrops, muscari, hyacinths and tulips, I am excited to offer more spring color that will be a wonderful burst of life from the earth after what is usually a long, cold winter.

6. Divide perennials

For any large perennials, I will be dividing and moving to where I would like them to grow and spread. When the mums are done flowering in late fall, they will also be divided and moved about as I look forward to more of their fall color.

7. Potting up basil to bring inside

While I know basil is a delicate fine herb and will be gone as soon as the first frost hits, I am going to bring my bush basil inside after having potted it in a small kitchen pot. We will see how long it lasts inside, but it is doing so well in the garden currently, I want to prolong its availability.

8. Harvesting berries

The marionberries and blackberries in the garden are ripening and ready now and will continue to offer berries into October. I look forward to enjoying them fresh off the vine and freezing a few bags to be enjoyed during the winter.

9. Planting peonies

With a couple of bareroot peonies arriving this fall, and my mom sharing five peonies from her own garden, I will be enriching the soil and finding them each a new home in my garden. Hopefully, in a couple of years, I will have the peonies I dream about in my spring garden.

10. Pull out sunflowers after the first frost

My sunflowers have absolutely surpassed any hope or expectation I had for them this summer, and as they came into their own late in August and are still going strong, I look forward to enjoying their sunshine until the first frost.

Once the frost hits, I will also be keeping many of the heads and leaving them about the garden for birds to enjoy while uprooting and disposing of the rest of the plant.

11. Find a permanent home for my potted hostas

Each year I include a hosta in each of my pots along with annuals near my front door. The hostas each live on into the following years as I plant them in the ground having found a permanent home for them in my shade garden. Over the past four years, I have continued doing this, and am gradually building a sea of green that offers memories of the past and a reminder that time can produce an amazing abundance of beauty.

12. Fertilize my bulbs

I just recently received the advice about fertilizing my bulbs in the fall (thank you mom :)). With daffodils and tulips already in the ground, and as shared above, more going into the ground, I will be taking a weekend to fertilize each one to hopefully bring about a beautiful spring season.

13. Plant out my foxglove when it becomes ready

My foxglove seedlings are growing, but they have a waaaaaays to go before they can go outside to establish their roots through the winter. However, my hope is to do so by the end of October.

14. Mulch my roses and hydrangeas

Whether with leaves or mulch I pick up at a garden center, each rose shrub and climber or rambler rose along with the newly planted hydrangeas will receive a good “hug” for the winter months.

15. Clean and tidy up the perennials and garden as a whole

From cutting back the remaining perennials that are done blooming, pulling out the annuals which are done for the season (thank you snapdragons – you have made the walk to the front porch a happy place!), as well as cutting 1/3 of each shrub rose bush down (more will be pruned in the spring), preparing the garden for a strong spring is the goal as well as reducing unnecessary extra work in the early spring and late winter.

16. Continuing to feed the birds

The birds have become a lovely addition to the garden, and every day, they feast at their cafe. As autumn arrives, their natural food becomes more sparse, so making sure I keep the feeder full through the winter is on my must-do list.

The seasons are changing, and oh how I am eager to step back outside after the smoke subsides and put my hands in the dirt again. Wishing you a productive and enjoyable fall season or spring season for my southern hemisphere readers.

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17 thoughts on “16 Things I Am Doing In My Garden This September & October

  1. Thank you for the lovely post about your autumn garden plans and actions. Here in the Southern Hemisphere spring is definitely on its way! I moved to my dream location here in Auckland N.Z. 4 months ago and it has much superior volcanic soil compared to my last garden of clay soil. This is a joy. Your post reminded me to observe this new garden, and to get the weeds under control first, as I watch this spring season unfold. Your plans apply to us here during our autumn next March and April so I will be looking back to this post then!

  2. Thank you for this post Shannon. I am enjoying a larger more green garden at my new home and i am slowly but surely – with the help of you and Monty Don – learning how to look after my plants and how to improve my garden slowly but surely. I will definitely be undertaking some of these tasks myself!

    1. Sarah, Monty Don really has become my garden teacher, along with my Mom, and just the simple act of gardening, regardless of whether the best hoped for outcome occurs is pure delight and fuel to get into the dirt all the more. Thank you for stopping by!

  3. I love that tetm”boulevard”. Never heard it used in reference to a garden. That’s a great list of to do’s . It’s all in the preparation and so rewarding to know that come spring all the hard work would have paid off. I am busy pruning all the many shrubs.Your tomatoes have way too much foliage. You should have pinched out the side shoots after the first few bunches were established. But you can do a lot with the green tomatoes if they don’t ripen before the frost. Have you got dailies. They’re great ear the vegetables and for cutting . Don’t throw away your tea leaves and coffee grounds. The roses love the coffee grounds and the tea can be added to your mulch. Happy gardening🍃🍃

    1. What a great idea about repurposing the many tea leaves I have! Thank you! Yes, this tomato got out of hand these past few weeks. I had been staying on top of them, but September’s time has been gobbled up by other life tasks and responsibilities keeping me away from the Garden. I look forward to getting back outside soon. 😌

  4. Boulevard was also a new term for me – love it! You have also sparked a lightbulb for me. I have my grandmother’s hostas growing in my yard which I have moved from house to house. In this yard, however the deer munch on them like candy so I never get to see them flower anymore. Perhaps I should dig them up and keep them in pots on my back deck (deer venture onto my back patio and front porch but not the highest deck in which is three steps up.) Any thoughts?

  5. I love hydrangeas too! One thing I have learned is not to prune them at all in the fall. I wait until they are in full leaf before I cut away any dead branches.

    I am happy you mentioned spring bulb planting – I always forget about it until it is too late! So on my to-do list for Saturday morning.

    Have a great day!

    1. Ah I didn’t credit my mum too.. she has a lovely tropical oasis and though she would downplay her skill she knows her stuff!

      You’re completely right I find it so relaxing to just “potter” in the garden.
      Happy gardening !

      1. Your mom downplays her expertise as well?! So does my mom. So humble. What would we do without them? 🙂 I am so grateful for her guidance and inspiration that I didn’t know what happening while I was a child. I love how you used “potter” instead of “putter”. Is that the proper word for it in England? I cannot help but think of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit. Thank you for your comment Sarah, and wishing you so much joy in your new home and garden. xo

  6. Thank you for this excellent post, Shannon! I have a dog, too, and so I’m always googling whether certain plants are toxic to pets. I noticed that you are planning on planting foxglove and you may already know this but it is extremely toxic/poisonous to dogs. I had to remove a gorgeous bleeding heart bush from my home when I moved in because it falls under the same toxic category, and also re-homed a peace lily that I had been growing for 10 years 🙁 Looking forward to seeing all that your green thumb produces!

    1. Excited to share how it goes – oopses and all! Yes, foxgloves are toxic and daffodils as well. My dogs don’t eat any plants, but knowing this and our dogs is essential to safe and happy gardening as having our dogs with us while we putter about is half the joy! I do appreciate your comment. Thank you for stopping by. 😌

  7. Enjoyed this article very much. Since this spring and summer have been so different this year I started buying more plants online with wonderful results. I saved so much money and there is endless choice. I just purchased a clematis that I had looked for in the nurseries for a long time and would have had to pay double for it if I had ever found it. I always bought my bulbs locally and a couple of years ago I bought spring bulbs online for the first time and I was amazed. I had never seen bulbs of that size or quality . Will never buy locally again . Highly recommend trying it.

    1. Elaine, thank you for stopping by! Yes, I too have appreciated the ability to shop for bulbs and some perennials online, and so long as they are nurseries that come recommended or I have had great success with in the past, I keep returning to them. I especially enjoyed shopping from Floret’s online as it was a small, family-run business and their quality was/is superb (she is not selling bulbs this year, but still sells seeds and other items). Of course, if I can support my local nurseries, I try to do so – for example when I shop for annuals and that annual first trip to the nursery which is a lovely ritual I look forward to; however, each of us lives in different areas with different availabilities, and we do need to watch our budget as you shared so long as we are finding quality plants. It is a balance. Sometimes, I have found if I have found a plant (a tree or shrub I love) online and ask my local nursery to purchase it, they give me the same price and save me from paying for shipping. This might be something to try if you want to support your favorite local nursery. Thank you so much for your comment and your enthusiasm! Wishing you wonderful moments in your garden. 🙂

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