Who would believe we have arrived at the first day of September already – the year is slipping by so quickly! Today is the first in one of the new series that I have talked about, when I will share with you the things that I am most excited about in the month to come.
Here in my temperate English garden the changing seasons are very marked and I love to make the most of what each month has to offer. I sometimes feel that when I am talking about jobs that need doing or specific areas of the garden I miss out on sharing the seasonal highlights that make everyday life such a joy.
September is one of my favourite months. I am not really a summer person (very pale skinned and always seeking the shade in the hotter months), so September marks the return of fresher air and lower temperatures. The increasing hours of darkness and a cooler bedroom mean that I can look forward to a full nights sleep for the first time in what feels like many months and the beautiful gentle September light that illuminates the garden means that I can look forward to capturing some beautiful garden views again with my camera.
So there you have my excitement September in summary – more sleep, more energy and incredibly beautiful light. Now for the specifics:
September is the month when the dahlias reach their peak – my dahlia beds will be overflowing with flowers and I will be able to fill every room in the house with baskets full of flowers in a variety of shades. Dahlias work perfectly with the gentle shape of the late roses and the beautiful berries that are ripening around the garden.
Although autumn is a few weeks away, the morning mist is a characteristic sight from the very first days of September. I love the mornings when this atmospheric mist lifts to reveal the blue skies and hot days that keep the garden flowering until late autumn.
Bringing In The Harvest
September is the month of garden bounty. In the fruit garden there are apples, plums, blackberries and the autumn raspberries to savour. The vegetable garden is also groaning with tomatoes, cucumbers, sweetcorn, beans, celery and salad in plentiful supply. One of the treats of September is to pick the ripened cobs of corn and throw them into already boiling water or onto the BBQ – nothing can beat that taste of just picked corn.
With the ripening plum crop comes Plum Brandy – a favourite way to use up the surplus. My recipe is taken from the lovely book ‘Prepped‘ by Vanessa Kimbell – a book full of ideas to keep your larders stocked with useful year round treats. Made now the Plum Brandy will be ready to strain into bottles in November – perfect for festive gifts.
One of my favourite September treats with a morning cup pf coffee is a slice of apple cake. This is a perfect cake to use up windfalls and although delicious warm from the oven it also lasts well in a tin. I will post the recipe with some photos of the finished product later this month.
I love to pick large bunches of hydrangeas in September just as the flower heads start to change colour and take on a papery texture. Placed in large vases with just a couple of inches of water in the bottom I leave these flowers to dry slowly throughout the month.
For me September is the month when I start to spruce up my house ready for the autumn and winter entertaining season. During the summer the long days and holidays mean that the house is left to its own devises. Come September it is time for some autumn spring cleaning! I always start with running down the freezer – using up all the food more suitable for outside dining than autumn suppers and clearing out the larder. Next on the list is the linen cupboard – I keep my towels and linens in a very large old Victorian school cupboard and September is the month when I like to pull everything out, have a good sort out and wipe down the shelves with warm water mixed with a few drops of lavender oil. If I have any enthusiasm for housekeeping left I will try and clean the front porch ready for autumn decorating. The pots on the porch need emptying and washing, the lanterns dusting and the stone steps scrubbing to stop them getting slippery in the winter weather. I can imagine you shaking your heads in dismay to find such takes on an inspirational list, but I really do enjoy these seasonal tasks with the feeling of organisation and preparation for busier times that they bring!
My bulb orders are in, so as soon as they arrive I will be getting on with planting. Whilst I always plan to start bulb planting in September, usually the ground is far too dry to dig holes, so I have to wait until much later in the year. This year we have had plenty of rain, so conditions are perfect for bulb planting. I am concentrating on building up the bulbs along the entrance drive and in the beds in front of the house this year, so have ordered plenty of narcissi for these areas. There are also pots to be scrubbed ready to be planted up with bulbs that will flower inside and in the greenhouse.
I always prepare for bulb planting with a big tidy up – cutting back and dividing spent perennials, pulling annuals and giving the beds a good weed. After all that preparation there is space to plant the bulbs and then the beds are covered with a layer of compost or leaf mold to keep down the weeds over winter.
Last year I was very lax in preparing for winter and left much of the work until spring – I have been paying the price all season so will not make that mistake again. In a smaller garden tidying up could be left until late November or even next spring, but in my large garden I will start with the beds furthest away from the house and gradually work inwards to keep the colour where I see it most for as long as possible.
A Day With Emily Quinton
Emily Quinton is a blogger and instagrammer who runs beautiful photography workshops. I spent a day on her Makelight Level One course a couple of years ago and have decided to do the Makelight Level Two this September. This will be an extra special day out as I am going to do the course with my daughter, who recently started her own blog called Butterfly Becca. I am sure we will both pick up lots of tips on this lovely inspiring course.
I will be demanding an hour of undisturbed peace on a Sunday evening when my favourite TV series returns this month!
Fruits & Berries
September is a the start of the fruit and berry season in flower arranging. I love to comb the garden and surrounding woodland for foraged finds including windfall apples or pears, which I can combine with new season ivy berries and beautiful dahlias for a very seasonal look. Ready right now are elderberries, rowan berries and ivy berries – before the end of the month the hawthorn berries will be added to the list.
Chutney, Jams & Jellies
September is a month for making the most of the harvest. I will be combining the many tomatoes which are ripening in the greenhouse with the onion crop to make chutney, the blackberries will make jam, the elderberries a lovely cordial and the apples a clear bright jelly. As I often cook in the evenings I tend not to use my camera very much to capture food, but this is something I am planning to work on over the next few months, so hopefully I will have recipes and photos to share with you.
So there you have a few of my favourite things in the month of September. What are your favourite things to look forward to this month?