IT is just after 3pm and we’re sat down having a cup of tea when an elderly lady marches towards us with a certain purpose.

"I wanted to find you," she said, "I’m 84 years of age and I have never seen a better garden, well done." And before we can thank her she has walked off. It has been a good season for us with many similar compliments and comparisons against other gardens. But it won’t be enough for us to repeat the garden for next year.

September is a crucial month in gardening; before the decay of winter sets in, you see what’s worked and what needs improvement, and there is always scope for further improvement.

Improvements we’re planning include reducing areas of high maintenance but perhaps not as others may see this. The area under our gooseberries on the bed under the south wall are constantly in need of weeding. We’ve tried hand weeding, but they come back; we have tried weed killer, but the land looks sad and goes stale. We have considered organic mulches, but the size of the area would make it not only expensive but also unattractive.

The last thing we need is an area of the garden that looks like a supermarket car park. So our solution will be to remove one half of the gooseberries and replant them among the remaining gooseberries. This increases the density of planting so that sunlight cannot penetrate to the ground below, in effect using the gooseberries as a mulch. In the area freed up we will create a new bed planted solely with large leaved plants such as Fatsia japonica, Gunnera, Rodgersia aesculifolia and Mahonia.

Again the density of planting will be such that we achieve almost immediate shade from the leaves, hopefully creating not only weed free ground but a new area of interest for our visitors to view.

What has worked well for us has been an increased use of annuals and bi-annuals to lift areas of the garden that had flowered earlier in the year. This will be repeated and increased in 2016 with some of these such as sweet williams and foxgloves being sown in the greenhouses this month. We have also been walking around the garden and finding areas of grass that are difficult to cut because of twee curves and isolated spurs. These will be removed and either grassed over or the flower border increased in size eliminating the need to use two different mowers.

In August after a life of contending extremely well with ill health, we sadly said goodbye to Paul Radcliffe, this garden’s first head gardener under Alison Ticehurst. Alison and Paul started what all successive and future gardeners here will do which is the September review of what’s gone before and what’s to come. In undertaking this annual review year on year, gardens improve not just for our benefit, but also for our 84 year old visitor. Thank you Paul for your contribution.