Moving houses is stressful at the best of time, and especially so if you happen to be a plant lover who is moving into a smaller space than the one, overflowing with plants after years of occupation, you previously inhabited.

Can you possibly dig up the fragrant, double roses that you have nurtured and take them along?

Does your new home have space for both your rose collection and the three-year-old strawberry guava trees grown from seed?

What about the miscellaneous array of cacti and succulents added to, seemingly endlessly, over time and ‘acquired’ cuttings?

Does the new place receive enough direct sun for the passion flower to thrive; how many gamlas, of varying sizes, can safely be slotted in to the back of a pick-up and will the plants survive the windy, no doubt high-speed, journey?

How can you possibly leave a single one of your treasured plants behind for the new occupiers of your old home to take care off — or not take care of as the case may be?

Moving plants to your new home isn’t as daunting as you might think. With the right steps, you’ll be moving them safely to their new destination

Such a headache and, whatever you decide to keep, to leave behind or to give away, there are bound to be regrets. But don’t forget and let this knowledge help you along the way, the vast majority of plants can, in time of course, be replaced: being grown from seed, propagated from cuttings, purchased from the bazaar and otherwise collected from here and there.

Your new home will demand new plants — this presents a golden opportunity for experimentation and green adventures of the most enthralling kind — to meet new growing conditions in a completely new space, to coax luxuriant green life and continue environmental rehabilitation wherever you happen to be.

Sowing seeds, lots and lots of seeds, is bound to help you settle in and there is no time like right now to begin.

Seed sowing suggestions for September

The flower garden: Many more winter to spring flowering annuals, along with some bi-annuals that perform as annuals in our climate, can be sown, in seed trays/pots, throughout the month. But do keep them out of direct sun light if temperatures are unseasonably high, plus, a few, such as Ammi or Queen Anne’s Lace and annual poppies — in lots of varieties and forms please — can be sown directly where they are to bloom but, preferably, in the second half of the month.

Shrub of the month — Ixora
Shrub of the month — Ixora

Annual hollyhocks, select from dwarf to gigantic varieties, are a reliable bet, put on a good, long-lasting show and are absolutely adored by bees and other beneficial insects. Bumble bees have a habit of feasting until they fall asleep, one leg securely clutching the central stamen, inside hollyhock flowers, snoozing away there, often overnight, until they have slept off their overindulgence! Tall growing scabiosa, loved by butterflies, is another good bet, as are all kinds of antirrhinums from dwarf to incredibly tall.

Then there are: delphiniums, ageratum, foxgloves — but only from Lahore northwards — cleomes, dazzling yellow bidens, sweet Williams, sweet sultan, stocks, godetia, dahlias, gypsophila, linum, clarkia, cornflowers, cineraria, various types of salvia, pelargoniums, geraniums, gerbera, rudbeckia, phlox, carnations and pinks, and masses of larkspur in shades from creamy white and pale pink through to deep red, mauve and the most intense shade of azure blue you have ever had the joy to see. For border edgings, rockeries, hanging baskets and patio pots, there are petunias and trailing petunias, nasturtiums, lobelia, candytuft, alyssum, violas, pansies, verbena, bellis and nemophila to name but a few.

The vegetable garden: Sow more root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot, kohlrabi, radish, turnips and potatoes. Greens come into their glory over the coming weeks and months and there are many different ones to choose from: cabbages, cauliflowers, spinach, leaf beet/Swiss chard, winter lettuce, Chinese cabbage, celery, different varieties of kale and mustards, fenugreek/methi, calabrese, broccoli, endive, pak choi, chop suey greens and Chinese and Japanese salad and stir fry greens of mixed texture, colour and taste.

Onions, both white and red, along with green or spring onions and leeks, can also be sown in well-prepared ground as can both shallots and garlic bulbs, plus, in the south of the country only, tomatoes — with the emphasis on cherry tomatoes as these cope with lower temperatures better than larger fruited varieties, can also be started. But do keep in mind that the plants may need at least night-time protection during the winter months. You can also make a start of sowing peas and beans, including those delicious broad beans, as these thrive in the cooler weather to come over the next few months.

The herb garden: Watercress, lovage, coriander, borage, calendulas, chives and garlic chives, thyme, oregano, agastache, lavender, tarragon, rosemary, nasturtiums, lemon balm, dill, mint varieties, sage, aniseed, parsley, liquorice and, in Karachi area only, varieties of wonderfully aromatic and versatile basil.

Shrub of the month: Ixora — this slow-growing, evergreen shrub flourishes in light shade as well as in full sun with the red flowered one taking more heat than pink, yellow, orange and white flowered versions. Tropical to semi-tropical, this attractive shrub does particularly well in Karachi if provided with a slightly acidic, well-drained, growing medium. Reaching an average height of between one to two metres, ixora responds well to being pruned of leggy or excess growth immediately after flowering is over. Also known as ‘jungle geranium’ or ‘flame of the woods’, it is a lovely addition to any garden and can also be grown in large clay pots or similar large containers.

Please continue sending your gardening queries to zahrahnasir@hotmail.com. Remember to include your location. The writer does not respond directly by email. Emails with attachments will not be opened

Published in Dawn, EOS, September 6th, 2020

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