The Month Of September
by Michelle Brett
As September begins, we start to notice the shorter days and beautiful autumnal colours appearing, Michelle Brett tells us what to expect from this transitional month.
September, (from the Latin septem, seven) was originally the seventh month on the Roman calendar. Heralding the start of meteorological autumn, the days will noticeably get shorter after the 23rd, the autumnal equinox. Generally, September can put summer to shame with less rain and storms as the temperatures drop, but this year… who knows? Expect mists to form overnight, especially towards the end of the month and we may see what remains of any hurricanes that cross the Atlantic. The 29th of the month, Michaelmas Day, is the date when the Lord Mayor of London is elected and used to be an informal administrative new year: annual rents due, annual employment terms expired, local courts held, and new school terms began after the harvest was completed.
In the Kitchen
Eating goose on Michaelmas Day was as common as turkey is now to Christmas. As fewer people became linked to the harvest collections with the advent of machinery, goose on the 29th also became rarer – although in recent years it’s seen a rise in the tradition again. Why not treat yourselves on the last Saturday of the month?
Arriving in huge quantities this month will be the damsons. Rich and sour and plum like, they’ll appear all at once in the hedgerows. Ensure that you get them preserved quickly though, as they spoil after a couple of days. Damson jam is a well known commodity, but why not also try some damson cheese? Slowly simmer 2kg damsons with a splash of water until they’re completely soft, then rub through a sieve to remove the skins and stones. For every 500ml of puree add 350g of sugar and simmer, stirring regularly for up to an hour until it’s thick enough to draw a line in the bottom of the pan. Pour into oiled plastic containers to set and then slice and serve with cheeses.
In the Garden
Most hyacinths need around ten weeks in the cool and dark and then three in the light – so now’s the time to plant the bulbs if you want them ready for Christmas flowering! Bring them out of the gloom when the shoots are an inch or so tall. If you have any potatoes left out, now’s the time to dig them up before the slugs get to them. Put netting over any ponds to catch the leaves as they fall and plant the spring bulbs along with any new perennials: the soil is still warm, but there’s generally more rainfall. Don’t forget to keep deadheading annuals and perennials – they’ve still got time to flower! To help with the development of buds for next year, keep the rhododendrons and camellias watered well.
Facts and Figures
We lose another one hour and fifty-three minutes this month, making the day length less than twelve hours and on the equinox, the day and night are the same length. The sun will rise precisely due east and set due west. Allegedly the average sea temperature should still be rising at 17.3°, but this year has proved well above average, with the south coast being particularly pleasant.
September’s birth flower is both the Forget-Me-Not [Myositis] and Aster: patience, daintiness and remembrance. The birthstone is the Sapphire. Present in almost every colour, it’s most desirable in a rich blue colour. It represents loyalty and trust. Those born in September will either be a Virgo or Libra, and will share their birthday month with HRH The Duke of Sussex (15th), Idris Elba (6th), Serena Williams (26th), Hugh Grant (9th) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (25th).
Have a wonderful September!