There are asters for almost all garden situations, be it in the border, rock garden, dry sites, flower meadows or beside a stream. Their daisy-like flowers can be white, blue, pink, purple or yellow.
Aster novi-belgii, Michaelmas daisy brings a wonderful display of bright colour to the garden at this time of the year. Its dark green leaves and violet flowers with yellow centres look striking next to white Phlox and amongst some pale pink penstemons which are still looking good. It grows to 90cm or more and may need staking. Divide every third year in spring to maintain vigour and flower quality.
Propagation by division, cuttings, seeds or layering can produce some very satisfactory results. Taking cuttings is a particularly easy way to increase your stock of roses, patience being the main ingredient!
Now is the time to do this. First select a cane of about two feet in length and cut it just above an outward facing bud. Remove the leaves. Cut the cane into about 6 to 9 pieces with the bottom of each being as close to a leaf node as possible. For miniature roses your cuttings can be shorter. Rooting hormone is not necessary but will enhance your chances of success. Plant each cutting into its own pot filled with potting compost and sand. Put at least 2/3 of the cutting into the soil. Mist the cutting and secure a bag over the pot, making a mini green house for each one. Keep outside in a light filled but sheltered spot, keeping the cuttings moist. They should take root within a month. Rather than placing the cuttings into a pot you can also plant them directly into the ground in a prepared place. Remove any flower buds that appear the following summer to encourage the plant to produce vegetative growth first. The following autumn the rose can be transplanted into its permanent bed.
Apples are the most versatile of fruit trees and can be grown in almost all soil types. If you have no room for trees in your garden you can also grow apple trees against a wall or fence using a wire framework.
A horizontal apple cordon is when the apple tree is trained along a single wire about 18 inches from the ground, making a very attractive boundary. Apples can also be trained over an arch or into an espalier which is a more complicated framework but looks very attractive.
Almost all apple trees will need to be pollinated by another apple tree of the same cultivar, so you will need to plant two trees to ensure that they crop effectively.
The trees in our garden are laden with fruit now and apart from yummy apple-based deserts we are also enjoying fresh apple juice every morning too, thanks to our juicer.
To store apples effectively you will need to put them in a cool, dark, frost-free place. A garage or shed is usually perfect as long as you can keep them rodent-free. Any damaged or bruised fruit should be discarded. Store in a plastic or wooden crate with slats. Make sure the apples are not touching as rot will spread very quickly otherwise.