By Candy Venning

September is a great time in the garden – the weather is warm enough to stay interested in things growing while its cool enough to remind us (on some days) that winter is coming.

Prep now, makes spring more fun. I prefer to divide perennials in late summer or early fall – If I know I’m planting bulbs I’ll wait until October – but I can still eye up who will get the mighty slice and where my perennials will go.

Garden centres are usually clearing out stock but don’t go crazy – only buy as much as you have room for and as much as you’re prepared to get into the ground. Ideally you experiment with a few plants that were too expensive to lose when they were full price.

Weed it! – weed it now before those seeds all drop and you don’t know what they are next spring so you leave them and then they take over – true story, happened to a friend of mine.

Collect the seeds – especially of harder to find native plants – whether to share and trade or grow intentionally for yourself in labelled pots (so you know what they are) If you have friends with lots of something lovely – don’t be afraid to ask for seeds or a division– most gardeners will happily share and see the query as a compliment.

Mulch – after you’re finished weeding – a good deep layer will help some plants overwinter and prevent roots being overly affected by drought and or extreme temperature fluctuations. Mulch should break down and improve your soil while keeping out many of the airborne and poop-borne (by birds) unwanted seeds that land on the soil surface, at the very least make them easier to pull. Please opt for natural, undyed Cedar mulch or arborists woodchips if you ‘Know a guy/gal’

Get rid of underperforming plants – especially if you’ve had them for years and they’re always disappointing. Do the slugs eat all the Hostas? (if you love Hostas then try a blue variety with no white or light green, pretty slugproof) does that Delphinium always wilt just before blooming, are the Japanese beetles eating all your Asiatic lilies…let them go. There are so many fantastic plants to try in a lifetime it seems utterly sad to hang on to lame plants (there is a native plant for every situation, add a few more this year)

Order your bulbs – clean your garden tools – sharpen your blades – organize your garden implements and give away any you haven’t used or are ‘just missing a screw, spring etc’ Gardening is hard enough without having good tools you treasure – I get by with 3 or 4 tools I use regularly. Loppers, Pruning shears, hori hori knife, gloves, 2 good pointy shovels that I can dig a decent hole with – and sometimes a pry bar.

I’m asking you to be your own garden ‘bestie’, take care of some problem issues now and lessen your spring workload. Better yet, take a break from the madness of hitting the garden centre all crazed and frothy in May to simply enjoy what you’ve set in motion this year.