My garden in August
This summer has been so glorious it must soon be time to wheel out the old headline beloved of the press in the 1950s, ‘Phew What a Scorcher!’ The only downside of all this unaccustomed sunshine is that it means a lot of plants will be under stress from lack of water. Make sure that you water hanging baskets and containers at least once a day if it does continue being hot. If possible use ‘grey’ water, meaning bathwater and water that has already been used. Give everything a liquid feed every couple of weeks. Camellias and Rhododendron need a lot of water now as this is the time that the buds are starting to form for flowering next year. Continue deadheading once plants have flowered to get more flowers. Although if you want to collect seeds let some flowers fade and collect seeds to sow next year. In the case of hardy annuals and perennials you will be able to do this in the towards the end of the month and going into the autumn. Hardy annuals can be sown directly into the ground from the end of the month.
Dahlias will be coming into bloom now. To get more flowers, cut out the centre bud and leave the other two buds to flower. If left, the Dahlia will put all its strength into the main flower, which is not what you want if you’re looking for a vibrant display.
Anemone x hybrid will start to flower towards the end of August. They are a very useful perennial to have as they flower when the summer perennials and bedding are over or fading. They will also tolerate partial shade.
Sowing & Maintenance
Cyclamen that have been resting can be started into growth now.
Apply a biological control for vine weevil, as the grubs will be starting to hatch. If they are not controlled they will make a bee line for pots of over wintering plants especially Fuchsia and in the spring you will realise that many of your plants in pots have very few roots.
Feed Pumpkins and squash with liquid seaweed for a bumper crop.
Sow carrots from now until September. Baby carrots will be ready for picking in about 4 weeks. They look so cute and scrumptious.
It is not too late to sow potatoes in containers for Christmas.
You can still grow Coriander until the end of August. Also don’t forget to grow Basil and Parsley to see you through the winter
Top up ponds and aerate the water by turning your fountain on if you have one. Clear fallen leaves from the water. Do check that the sump of water features is topped up. Many is the time I will get a phone call from a client saying their water feature isn’t working. There is usually nothing wrong but they have forgotten to top up the sump with water.
Pruning & propagating
Prune back lavenders and Hebes after flowering. With Lavenders do not cut back into the old wood, just the new soft growth.
Cut back summer fruiting Raspberry canes to allow for the new growth to come through.
Give hedges a final trim before the winter. Rambling roses will thank you for a prune now as well.
Take cuttings of Geraniums, and Fuchsia to over winter in the greenhouse or a windowsill.
Take semi ripe cuttings of Buxus semperviren and Lavenders amongst many. To take a Semi ripe cutting you need to cut into the hard wood just below a leaf at the bottom. Remove the lowest leaves and the soft tips at the top. The cutting should be about 150mm long.
Dip the cuttings into rooting powder and insert into pots of free draining compost. Put the pots of cuttings either into a greenhouse or cover with a plastic bag. Keep the compost damp.
Once rooted harden off gradually outside before planting outdoors.
Propagate Clematis by layering along the ground. You can also propagate Pinks and Carnations by layering.
Raise the blades on your lawn mower, as this will help the lawn in the hot weather. It is always better to cut on a higher cut as the longer the grass is the longer the roots are. The roots will then be able to go deeper into the ground in search of moisture. Leaving fine lawn clippings on the grass will also act as moisture retentive mulch.
As I mentioned above if you’re going to water your lawn try to use grey water. I would worry about watering newly planted trees and shrubs before watering the lawn. Lawns that are looking brown and sad now will usually bounce back after a good shower.
Plants flowering in August
As we are coming to the end of summer many of the earlier flowering perennials have finished and summer bedding may be looking tired, especially after all those ‘scorchers’. Try some of these planting to bring colour back into the garden.
Plant Stachys byzantina (Lambs ears) children love these plants, as they are so soft to touch. They will look good with Eryngium bourgatii and Achillia Moonshine.
Hibiscus Bluebird, Anemone x hybrid Honorine Jobert and Elaeagnus Quicksilver are another pleasing combination.
Potentilla fruticosa comes in many different colours. Try planting with Agapanthus and Sedum spectabile. Agapanthuses are such majestic flowers and they love a hot south facing space.
For planting in the shade Fuchsia Tom Thumb, the blue of festuca glauca and Athyrium filex-femina work well.
?? Nandina domestica and an Acer palmatum Blood good should have a space somewhere in the border.
The butterfly bush Buddleia with Phyllostachys nigra (Black Bamboo) and Clematis praecox will bring butterflies into the garden, which is desirable for so many reasons, not least because they are so pretty.
Last but not least Perovskia Blue spire (Russian sage) Knautia macedonica and a white Phlox will look wonderful together.
Enjoy the lazy days of August before we’re all back to hard graft in September. If the August Bank Holiday really does turn into a ‘Phew’ experience, look for photos in the press of people splashing about under fountains, or, for the real ‘Fifties touch, elderly gents in suits on the beach with knotted handkerchiefs on their heads.