1. Buy bulbs. They are a simple and often economical way to add colour to your spring and summer garden. Tulips, daffodils, frittalaria and lilies can all be ordered online now or purchased in store in September for fall planting. The bulbs rely on sunlight in spring when the trees have yet to leaf and go dormant in summer when the shade comes. Tip: Brighten up spots that are shaded by deciduous trees with spring flowering bulbs.
2. Divide perennials. These are the plants in your garden that regrow each spring. September is the time to get out your shovel, take a walk around your garden and fill in empty spaces with plants would benefit from being moved or divided. Established perennials (other than peonies and bleeding hearts) thrive from being divided and each division produces a new plant. Tip: When perennials outgrow their site or start to die off in the centre of the clump, that means it is time to divide.
3. Plant perennials. New perennials can also be planted in September, just make sure you do it at least one month before the first frost to allow the plants time to send out roots. This is the only chance you’ll have to create the best soil conditions for a perennial until you divide in a few years, so prepare the planting spots with lots of compost and organic slow-release fertilizer such as bone meal.
4. Plant hardy annuals from seed. Annuals are plants that only last one season. Many varieties of hardy annuals can be planted from seed 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost. The baby plants will overwinter, giving you stronger plants and earlier blooming flowers the following spring. Tip: Varieties such as black-eyed susan (rudbekia hirta), delphinium, larkspur (delphinium consolida), love-in-a-mist (nigella) and yarrow (achillea millefolium) can all be successful depending on your zone.
5. Remove any weeds. Pay attention to the ones that are going to seed. If those seeds are left to spread, they can produce hundreds of new weeds in the spring!
Sarah Nixon is an urban flower farmer and designer in Toronto. For 12 years her flower company, My Luscious Backyard, has sustainably grown over 100 varieties of cut flowers in a micro-farm comprised of many residential yards in Toronto’s west side. Throughout the growing season My Luscious Backyard creates florals for weddings and events, delivers arrangements to flower subscription recipients across the city and provides flowers to several discerning florists.