September has been mostly warm and wet with a lengthy record breaking heatwave earlier on. This has created a riot of colour in the gardens which will continue right into October. It is a bumper autumn for roses and Dahlias in particular but colour is plentiful elsewhere to from Sedums, Russian sage, Asters, Astrantia, Hydrangea’s and from foliage like Cotinus (smokebush).
Grasses which are particularly good in October are Pennisetum villosum (feather grass) with its large, soft feathery seedheads and Pennisetum alopecuroides (fountain grass) which looks more compact and has very fresh green foliage into the autumn.
Villosum prefers a warmer and more protected spot. Stipa tenuissima (Mexican feather grass) is a favourite of mine especially when planted in large drifts. It takes on a more bronzed colour in late summer and autumn. It is a choosy plant and prefers to be left alone to develop and seed. Best in a fairly sunny spot in well drained moisture retentive soil.
October is the best time to cut many hedges and we will clip all of ours this month so that they form an important part of the winter interest and structure. It is a great month to prepare new borders, lift, split and replant herbaceous perennials and for lawn care such as scarifying (removal of dead grass and moss) and aeration.