Don't dwell, celebrate the here and now

Nature has a very subtle way of urging us to make the most of every remaining summer day whilst still surrounded by ripening fruits, maturing vegetables and sparkling flowers.

Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 3:59 pm
Marigolds can be long-flowering, given encouragement. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

It comes in the guise of shortening day length, an occasional fall in evening temperature, swallows congregating on telephone wires, and a smell of mushrooms on the morning air.

But we gardeners are already aware of approaching September and the weather it’s capable of bringing, so rather than dwell on its premature arrival, let’s celebrate the here and now.

My mindset is on summer continuing, maintaining a productive garden and keeping ornamental displays going.

When the season that follows eventually arrives, it won’t be treated with gloom for there’s much to anticipate, including the return of star plants to a different stage.

It’s natural for some of the plants we relied on for midsummer container and bedding displays to be looking jaded as September arrives. Some annuals are long-flowering and resilient whatever the weather, others not so.

Lobelia, pansy and petunia are beginning to fade, but they made a good contribution earlier. By comparison, the fibrous begonias, marigolds and cosmos have more mileage in them, given a little encouragement.

It’s worth observing public displays and noting which plants in baskets and containers are lasting the distance.

Northumbria in Bloom entrants have an extra incentive to prolong flowering. The results are announced in September, followed by the inevitable photo-call, and if an entrant is nominated for the national finals, that draws further attention.

Keep watering, feeding and removing faded blooms.