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September 2015 Newsletter

Now that it’s September, it’s the perfect time of year to enjoy the colour crescendo of your summer perennials. Just before they go to seed they put on their most intense of colours and it’s so rewarding knowing they’ll come back next year to put on an equally good if not better display.

It’s a busy time September when you get to start planting some of your spring bulbs for next year, and we’ve got some gorgeous new varieties for you to try.

During a well-earned break check out our September catalogue for ideas and inspiration on getting beautiful bulb displays.

Consider potting up baskets and containers full of autumn/winter bedding now too so you can have cheery colour right across the winter. And rejuvenate perennials so that they look great year after year.


Jobs to do now

Plant bulbs

Now’s the time you can get creative and start planning for the spring garden. Autumn-planting bulbs are the perfect plants to add colour early in the year, from as early as late-winter, and keep providing colour until well into early summer.

And they’re so versatile. They look great in borders; some even being ideal for planting in awkward dry, shady spots like under trees and shrubs. Equally they look great in pots, positioned around the garden adding splashes of colour all around.

You can plant small bulbs like snowdrops, grape hyacinths and narcissi really close to each other for a big impact, and larger bulbs like daffodils, tulips and alliums about 5cm (2 in) apart so they have room to develop strongly and produce bold blooms.

As a rule of thumb, plant with the thinner end of the bulb facing-up, to a depth of three times its height.


 Order bare-rooted roses 

Roses are the epitome of a well-kept and well-adorned garden and with so many types, there’s one to suit a range of situations. Are roses are available to order now. (We despatch our bare-root roses from mid-October – the perfect time for you to plant at home). The soil’s warmed from summer and the roots can establish well over winter. See our wide range of beautiful roses you can try for your garden, patio or balcony.

  • Dig a hole that’s large enough to fit the entire root mass without any roots being broken, bent or emerging from the surface. (In the case of potted roses, dig a hole that is twice as large as the rootball but almost equally as deep.) It basically needs to be deep enough to entirely cover the roots or the rootball all the way up to the grafting point on the stem. (The grafting point is the join where the stem of the ornamental variety is grafted on the root stock and is at the bottom of the stem).
  • When positioned in the hole, the grafting point should be just above the level of the soil surface.
  • Use a fertiliser to give the planting hole a boost before planting.
  • Position the rose plant into the planting hole (making sure it’s straight and upright) and fill back in with the dug-out soil.
  • Firm down the soil around the base of the rose gently with your hands. Give the rose a good soak with water straight away after planting.


Divide perennials 

You can make sure that your spring-flowering perennials keep vibrant and healthy by dividing big established clumps in mid to late September, including plants like Convallaria (lily-of-the-valley), wild primrose and epimediums.

It’s also a great idea if you want to introduce some of your favourite perennials to other parts of the garden that may be looking a bit bare.

Lift the established clump up gently with a fork and shake off any excess soil. With gloves, prize the clump apart into smaller sections. For plants that have tougher roots you might need a hand fork to prize the roots apart.

Replant the new smaller sections about 10-20cm (4-8in) apart, and water well.

Now you have multiple, vigorous plants that will establish their root well over the winter to give a new lease of life to the plants next year.


Cut flowers for vases indoors 

Bring some of the garden indoors and add natural colour to your conservatory, hallway or living rooms. The colours are at their most intense at the time of year and flowers such as rudbeckias, heleniums and echinaceas look gorgeous in vases with architectural leaves from palms and ferns.

Just get a good pair of snips, get outdoors in the early morning and cut some flowers. Flowering plants are full of water so even when cut from the main plants last well in vases.

You may be lucky in having your sweet peas still blooming into late-summer. These make fantastic cut flowers so don’t delay in selecting some fine flowers for vases indoors.


Apply pond-clear to garden water-features 

You can reduce the algae bloom though by creating an environment that discourages the growth of algae and encourages oxygen-introducing bacteria to thrive. Eco-Sure Aqua Super 12 Pond Clear is a biological product that works to do exactly just that.

At this time of year you may have noticed an overall spread of algae in your pond. Even with a summer like this one, of broken sunshine, the humidity and sunlight can cause algae to take hold.

Not only is this unsightly, it’s potentially harmful to pond wildlife. Oxygen levels in the water are significantly reduced and an unhealthy kind of bacteria takes over.

Introducing a dose of Pond Clear at this time of year will establish a healthy population of beneficial bacteria this autumn to see your pond through the winter and have the foundations for a great-looking and healthy pond next year.

This not only helps to keep your ponds and water features clear, but also ensures a long-term healthy environment for all your pond life.    


Plant bedding for flowers this winter and spring 

Early-season bedding plants are perfect for planting in patio pots, hanging baskets and for filling spaces in borders. They often flower before Christmas, providing a little splash of colour when it’s needed most. Come the spring, they produce even more flowers as soon as the weather warms, brightening up the garden early in the season.

If planting straight outside without potting on first, make sure they are in a sheltered or protected position. Sometimes plugs are vulnerable in exposed sites or where there are pests or pets.

Before planting your plugs, thoroughly dig and add some fertiliser to the soil first. Doing this provides an easier environment for the young plants to establish their roots.

Dig an individual hole for each plug, deep and wide enough for the entire root ball. Water each planting hole and allow the water to soak away.

Use a dibber or pencil to push the plants out through the base of the plant tray to avoid damaging the plant.

Place the rootball in the hole, backfill the soil and gently firm down the area around the plant.

Water well at first, especially if the weather is still warm, paying particular attention to containers and baskets. Once autumn falls and the weather cools significantly, watering isn't as necessary, as be sure not to waterlog soil.

EXTRA TIP ***Do not overwater young plug plants

If young seedlings or young plants have rotted, more or often than not it’s down to over-watering.

Prevent this from happening;

  • When young, water from above when soil feels dry until roots are emerging from the bottom of the pot.
  • Never stand pots in water for a length of time. Roots need to breathe and get sufficient oxygen; if you keep them standing in water they drown.


A good tip for established plants is to stand them in a tray of water overnight, if the soil is dry. In the morning tip out the excess water from the tray. Only ‘flood’ the tray again when soil surface feels dry to the finger tip. Again, make sure you re-visit after a few hours or overnight to tip out excess water.


Sow seeds of hardy annuals outdoors 

This is really rewarding as you get tons of plants for great value. At this time of year you can sow hardy annuals like nigella, cornflowers and corn poppies. They’ll germinate and grow into young plants this autumn, withstand the winter and become extra-strong in the process ready to flower abundantly next year with really robust roots and weather-hardy stems.

When you get your seeds you’ll notice there is lots of information on the seed packet; it’s worth reading this gem of information that covers sowing times, plant care and harvesting information.

Here are some of the basics for successful sowing outdoors;

  • Use a rake to level the surface and create a crumble-like tilth. At this point remove any weeds or large stones etc.
  • Water the surface prior to sowing.  This is better than watering over the top of seeds once they are sown as the force of the water can displace the seeds unevenly.  
  • Thinly scatter the seed over the soil. Pour the seed into the palm then tap lightly with the other hand to distribute the seed evenly over the area of soil. If they are big seeds you can place them individually on the soil.
  • Use a rake to gently cover the seeds with soil.
  • Before you forget where the row is and what you’ve sown, place a label in the soil at one end.
  • Remember to water in dry spells

If you want your plants to germinate quickly you can put down a horticultural fleece over the soil – this helps retain the heat in the soil, and doubles up as protection from hungry seed-eating birds. This also prevents any frost damage from some of the cold winters we are susceptible to.


Plant of the month - Sunflower ‘American Giant’

Sunflowers are the epitome of late-summer, and thanks to plant-breeding sunflowers come in a wide range of heights from ankle-high blooms to 16-foot giants.

What’s more, they come in lots of shades too from cheery canary-yellow to the most beautiful burnt amber. They look great, are easy to grow from seeds, and are great food for garden finches in autumn.

Sunflower ‘American Giant’ F1, with dinner-plate yellow flowers, reaches an impressive 5m (16ft high) with a strong sturdy stem that requires no support. Great for children to sow in the late May Bank Holiday and see it take on epic proportions in late summer.

Being a F1 hybrid, it’s naturally vigorous and strong, and if you are growing more than one plant, will show uniform growth, ideal for making an impressive giant sunflower hedge, which also doubles up as an effective windbreak.

Height: 5m (16ft)

Flowering period: July- October


Pest of the month - Pigeons on brassicas and succulents 

This is a great time of year to think about growing a range of brassicas to see you through the early spring and into next summer.

Pigeons love the thick succulent leaves of cabbage, and if your brassicas aren’t protected they’ll strip the leaves in no time at all, ruining your crop.

Prevention is really the only solution and you can protect your crops with bird-netting and other protection – an easy-to-apply means of keeping pigeons away from your crops.

Bird-scarers such as scarecrows, or rotating CDs on poles can be used in the short-term but birds soon clock-on, and the scarers become less and less effective.

Bird-netting, cloches and fleece have a dual advantage of keeping young brassica plants free from harm from early frosts, when establishing in autumn.


Design of the month – Seating 

You spend so much of your time in the garden weeding, planting, dividing and clearing plants that it’s nice to be able to sit back in the garden and enjoy the rewarding flowers after so much hard work.

Seating is an important part of making your garden functional as well as beautiful, and some of the best-planned gardens include seating of some kind.

Tables and chairs are ideal, functional and attractive especially placed in sunny spots of the garden for you to enjoy with your guests.

All kinds of seating are available though, including backless benches, seats incorporated into arbors and stools that fit the overall design of the garden. You may even consider purchasing a bean bag or two for a more informal touch. They look colourful and modern and suit decking and wild-gardens alike.

Consider placing seats underneath or nearby to fragrant plants like roses and sweet peas. There’s nothing nicer than being outside, having your head in a good book and taking in the fresh fragrant flowers.

Take a look in your garden or balcony and see how you might be able to incorporate some seating in your outdoor space.



Check out the new Unwins September catalogue, online from 1 September, and in paper-form from 3 September, with a whole host of exciting plants for blooms appearing as early as late-autumn, seeing you through the winter and well into early-summer next year.

Need a well-earned break? Fix yourself a drink, relax and browse the catalogue planning your garden for continual flowers and glorious colour.

 Here are some of the exciting highlights;

  • ‘how-to’ pointers and tips on the perfect garden accessories
  • new and beautiful spring-bulb varieties
  • ‘new-to-mail-order’ easy-plant bulb-pads
  • colourful container collections and the best of seasonal bedding
  • Unwins speciality sweet peas



Take away the hassle of individual planting by getting your hands on convenient, no-mess, no-fuss bulb-pads. If you don’t want to be handling irritant hyacinth bulbs or fiddly small bulbs this is the perfect solution for you!

Select bulb varieties come in a decomposable pad that you simply lay down on a flat surface of soil in the autumn and await a gorgeous display in late-winter to spring.

Great for layering in containers for impressive displays in spring. They’re new for mail-order too so take advantage of this innovative planting technique now.




Harrogate Autumn Flower Show (18-20 September) 

Come to the grand Yorkshire Showground this autumn for a flower show that hosts the best of late-season flowers displayed by specialist gardening groups. The show also boasts a gardening theatre hosted by resident gardening experts, great garden accessories for sale, and a whole lot more to see and do.






Malvern Autumn Show (26-27 September) 

For another great autumn gardening show, head to the picturesque Malvern Hills in Worcestershire for the Malvern Autumn Show held at the Three Counties Showground.

Within the grounds, see beautiful blooms and get great gardening advice at the RHS Flower Show, have family fun experiencing country pursuits like dog-agility and gun-dog demonstrations, and see a wealth of well-grown crops in the UK National Giant Vegetable Competition.




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