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Tara sep2015 blog

By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

We are putting the final touches to our autumn course timetable and are gently adding them to the website as details and locations are confirmed. This year we will launch a series of two-hour workshops at off-site locations beginning with "Designing with grasses" at the wonderful nursery Roussillon Fleurs in Meyrin later this month.

After a lovely long summer break I’m back to everything; back to school for the kids, back to early mornings for me, back to the overgrown and somewhat scorched garden and back to being alone in the morning when I can catch up on everything I didn’t get around to this summer. Sound familiar?

Summer brings with it so many distractions from the garden, holidays to take, guests to host, places to visit, people to see, meals to share. Short of harvesting the bounty from the garden this summer I managed to avoid doing much more than a lot of watering and a little weeding; the incredible and seemingly unending heat did not encourage me either. But now with September upon us and a most distinctive autumnal feel to the early dark mornings reality has set in – it’s back to work.

Early fruiting raspberry canes (now yellow-leaved with spent fruit spurs) should be cut to the ground. Next year’s fruit will be borne on this year’s new fresh green growth – don’t cut that back otherwise you’ll have no fruit next June. Autumn fruiting canes should keep on fruiting until the first frosts, or until you stop picking, then it will be time to cut them all back to the ground. To ripen your green tomatoes, pinch out any new growth and flowers from the tips of the plants, now is the time to discourage new fruit sets as they will not ripen before the weather changes. Remove the green leaves around the fruit exposing them to the sunshine, a fruit hidden by leaves will not get enough sun and will not ripen on the vine for you. Tidy up the perennials a little removing some of the spent leaves and flowers and they should continue to grow while the weather remains mild. Same for the roses and any annuals, keep watering and dead-heading and they will also keep flowering.

Unless you used an irrigation system on your lawn this summer you will undoubtedly have brown, scorched patches surrounded by green. Rake over the brown grass and remove as much of it as you can, scratching the soil beneath as you go, sprinkle grass seed over the affected areas and water in. The lawn will also green up if left to its own devices however you will most likely have more clover and weeds than grass.

Following my successful garlic experiment last autumn I’ve started thinking about what I can plant this coming season. I’m thinking about starting some green cover to improve the soil over the winter but also about growing some more kale from seed and perhaps some winter spinach. The seed catalogues are on the way.

Something that really helps with the evolution of a garden is to take photographs of your garden at different stages during the year. In the winter when everything is barren and many plants are underground, to high summer when everything is in that exuberant messy full leaf and flower stage. When the weather turns and you can no longer be outside photographs remind you about what you loved and what you didn’t like. They help pinpoint exactly where perennial plants are placed in the border which helps when you want to add to the border, and remind you why you need to move something. Now in these last days of summer, take photographs of your garden, it will only take 10 minutes but it will provide you with significant input for your future planning.

What's on
Les Jardins du Château de Vullierens, 11-13 September
This weekend sees the final opening of the year of this private garden with the second flush of over 50 varieties of iris blooms to see. Pop-up demonstrations of how to correctly plant rhizomes are held at 11:00 and 14:00 each day by the resident gardeners. There is also the possibility of ordering iris and day-lily rhizomes for planting this autumn, hundreds of varieties are available for home delivery. The weekend culminates in a piano and violin concert at 16:00 on Sunday.
(no dogs)
Les Jardins des Iris

Jardilisle & les Amis Suisse des Plantes Vivaces - Marché et Troc des Plantes, Sunday 13 September, 09:30-16:30
This delightful annual market and plant swap organized by Jardilisle and the Amis Suisse des Plantes Vivaces takes place this Sunday from 09:30 in the courtyard of the Château of L'Isle above Morges. Bring a plant to exchange for a bon and swap the bon for a plant, if you don't have a plant to swap you can buy bons at the entrance. This event is frequented by a number of our favourite perennial specialists including Rémy Jaggi, Roussillon Fleurs, l'Autre Jardins and Biolay along with Felco Secateurs. If you are looking for inspiration this is the place to be - a splendid way to spend a Sunday.
Marché des plantes et troc - Jardilisle

Déjeuner sur l’herbe et Marché à l’ancienne, Château de Prangins, Sunday 27 September, 10:00-17:00
This now annual event in the grounds of the Château combines guided visits and demonstrations and fun games for the family all with a 19th Century theme, look out for Hester who will be conducting garden visits in English.
Déjeuner sur l'herbe
La fête aux dahlias, Morges
The floral displays continue in Morges with the exuberance of dahlias until the end of October; enjoy the colours in the parks along the lakeside. As with the tulips, the dahlias are dug up at the end of the season and sold to the public on Saturday 31 October and Sunday 1 November from 10:00-16:00 in the gardens of the Château de Morges.
Dahlias in Morges

Le Jardin des Cinq Sens, Yvoire
This inspiring, restored walled garden remains open everyday from 10:00 until Sunday 11 October – it is well worth a visit.
Le Jardin de Cinq Sens

Les Bucoliques, Château de la Corbière à Estavayer-le-Lac, 19-20 September, 09:00-18:00
This charming bi-annual travelling fair will hold their autumn event this year on the banks of the lake of Neuchâtel. With many plant experts and growers, workshops for children and a photography exhibition there is something for everyone.
Les Bucoliques

This new season sees us launch a series of stand alone two-hour morning workshops. Each will be held off-site at a specialist nursery or garden. Evening courses will return shortly and we will continue to run our popular morning courses. Further details will be on-line once the locations are confirmed. Don't forget all registration and payment is via the website, sign up so as not to be disappointed.

Workshop - Gardening with grasses, Thursday morning 24 September, 09:30-11:30, Roussillon Fleurs, Meyrin
This workshop will explore the incredibly versatility of these plants in your borders. They will bring colour, texture and season-long interest to your garden. Students will have the opportunity to examine the grasses closely and appreciate their differing growth habits and needs. We will pay particular attention to individual requirements. In addition to a box of grasses to take home, students will also benefit from a 10% reduction on any plants purchased on the morning of the workshop.
Gardening with grasses

Workshop - An introduction to perennials, Tuesday morning 29 September, 10:00-12:00, R. Jaggi, Trélex
This workshop aims to remove the mystery of integrating perennials into your garden. A very much hands-on approach will have students "plant up" a gravel area with a selection from the nursery allowing them to see the impact of shape, size and colour on their personal spaces. In addition to a box of perennials to take home, students will also benefit from a 10% reduction on any plants purchased on the morning of the workshop.
An introduction to perennials

Workshop - Winter vegetable gardening, Tuesday morning 6 October, 10:00-12:00, Prangins
We will explore this fantastic, restored, walled vegetable garden and learn the secrets of winter vegetable gardening, managing expectations by planting the correct varieties. Learn what to grow this winter.
Winter vegetable gardening

Author's bio


An enthusiastic, self-taught gardener, Tara Lissner is passionate about gardening and eager to share her zeal and knowledge with other gardening fans.

In 2012, she joined forces with Hester Macdonald, a British-trained landscape designer, to launch the Swiss Gardening School.

(Photo by Jean-Luc Pasquier)

Swiss Gardening School