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September gardening tips

Our head gardener, Kevin Martin, shares his top tips as summer turns to autumn

September is a time of transition in the garden, from summer to autumn, with lots of jobs to do now to prepare for the coming months.

Head gardener Kevin Martin tells us what he’ll be doing in the Glyndebourne gardens in the coming weeks and shares his top tips for your garden.

Join us on 3 September for our Open Gardens when you’ll be able to ask Kevin all your gardening queries!

L-R: Gardeners Greg Coote, Giovanni Conte and Kevin Martin in the Mary Christie Rose Garden earlier this summer.
Photo: James Bellorini

What are the main gardening jobs for September?

After a particularly dry few weeks we’ve been assessing the garden and taking stock of what did well and what didn’t to help plan for next summer.

We’re also starting to pick apples and damsons from the fruit trees in the gardens. We always have an abundance of apples so we send our apples off to be juiced and some of the juice is used in our Nether Wallop restaurant, as well as our damsons, with any leftovers being made into delicious damson jam.

We’re preparing the leaf-bins now so we’re ready for when the leaves start to fall – we’re expecting them to start falling earlier this year after the hot weather, so get started now on preparing your leaf bins so you’re ready!

If you have a veg patch, now’s the time to harvest your potatoes and onions. We’re digging ours up now and I recommend tying your onions up so you can easily hang them to dry. September is generally a good time for drying – we also dry some of the flowers from the gardens, do the same and you can have beautiful floral displays in your home throughout the winter.

What can we do to help our lawns recover after the hot summer?

Autumn sees us getting the soil into good condition in the garden at Glyndebourne. Particularly after a hot and dry summer like this year’s, improving your soil’s condition is the key to ensuring a healthy garden next year. We incorporate lots of the compost we produce onsite, it helps the soil retain water which will pay dividends if next year’s summer is another dry one.

This summer was very hard on the grass and so we will be raking the lawns with a scarifier to remove the thatch (debris such as dried grass cuttings and dead moss). Thatch prevents rain reaching the grass roots so removing it is another way of making the most of any rainfall. We often see how quickly our parched, summer lawns improve once it rains, and that is helped by the maintenance work we did in the previous autumn. We also spike the lawns which is another way of making sure rain can reach the roots, and to help with aeration.

Kevin working in the rose garden. Photo: James Bellorini

What should we be planting?

You can add some autumn colour to your garden now – adding pansies and polyanthus to pots will give you a colourful boost throughout autumn into early winter.

Plant bulbs in September and October to give yourself a lovely surprise next spring when they’ll start appearing – bulbs starting to sprout are always an uplifting sign of the start of sunnier days after winter. We’ll be starting to plant our narcissi bulbs ready for a colourful spring display along our hornbeam avenue.

We’ve seen some very dry spells this summer, what are your tips for drought-proofing gardens?

We found this summer that salvias and nicotiana were particularly drought resistant, and our roses fared well due to their deep roots. If you’re looking to help drought-proof your garden I would recommend adding all three to your beds.

Open Gardens tickets are on sale now – join us on 3 September, when you’ll be able to meet our gardens team, and browse our plant sale

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