August in the garden
Friday, 10 August 2018 | Alison
August in the garden
As this wonderfully hot summer continues into August I find that I am waking extra early and leaping, ok crawling, out of bed just to check whether it has rained during the night.
Alas no, is generally the answer, but the good thing is I am getting into the garden much earlier in the day to do all those jobs that still need doing, whether its sunny or not, before I retreat under the brolly and sip chilled elderflower cordial.
As you may know Brookside Nursery is based in Staffordshire in The Midlands where rainfall has been minimal this summer and the ground is fairly parched. Although there has not been a hosepipe ban in this area I notice that few folk are using sprinklers to water their lawns, as most of the best dressed lawns seem to sporting this seasons look consisting of brown and straw coloured patches where there was once a lush green colour. The good news is that once it rains for a few days, our ‘green and pleasant land’ will return quite quickly.
Here are my Brookside Nursery Top Ten Tasks for August in your garden:-
*Reviving your summer borders– If, after this summer, your borders need refreshing, invest in some choice new perennials that will take over from earlier flowering plants. Our new range of garden- ready perennials is ideal for more problematic areas of the garden. They are ready for delivery now and will have time to settle in a form great root growth before the winter sets in. Perennials are an absolute must for any garden border (and most adapt very well to container planting too) and will reward you for many years to come.
*Spring bulbs and flowers - Although we are in high summer it is time to think about next spring’s displays for your garden borders and containers. We have added many new varieties of pansies, violas, bellis daisies, wall flowers and many beautiful spring bulbs as well as onion sets and garlic to our autumn/winter collections. See the website for more details. www.brooksidenursery.co.uk
*Tomatoes - Ensure that greenhouses are getting enough ventilation in the hot conditions and if necessary cover the plants with fleece to protect the ripening fruits from scorching. Cut off the lower leaves to allow more air to circulate. Step up on the watering and feeding of tomatoes that should now be fruiting – even and consistent watering throughout the growing season and regular feeding will promote the healthiest crop of tomatoes. Blossom end rot, due to lack of calcium, can be a problem with tomatoes that are suffering due to hot dry conditions. This is when you will see a black patch appear on the underside of the fruits. Ensure that you maintain a strict watering routine and that the soil has a pH level of around 6.5.
*Camellias and rhododendrons – These plants (if recently planted) do need to be watered regularly if possible if the area is really dry and your plants are not mature and more able to cope. It is at this time of the year when next year’s flower buds are produced. If you cannot water them you will just have fewer blooms next year.
*Wisteria - A job to be done if you haven’t already done it is to shorten most of this season’s growth by pruning back the whippy stems. This will help to promote next year’s flowers and smarten the overall look of the plant.
*Deadheading – Keep on top of removing spent flowers from your hanging basket and container annuals and give them a weekly feed. Sweet peas will benefit from regular picking to encourage further flowers. Repeat-flowering roses can have their tops snipped off, to encourage new growth, although if you have hybrid tea roses that only bloom once a year it is worth leaving them to form colourful rosehips in the autumn.
*Dahlias – Stake dahlias to prevent them from toppling over and the stems breaking. This applies to other late summer flowering perennials too, like Echinacea and Asters. Remove spent dahlia blooms – these are the pointy, fleshy ones, not the round, firm ones!
Hedgehogs and wildlife – The drier season makes it even more important to encourage hedgehogs into the garden. By giving them a supply of drinking water at ground level will mean they will come and drink from your watering hole/wildlife pond. Birds too, love to cool off in a bird bath, so keep that topped up regularly. Wasps have been drinking from my bird bath too and now that I know they are also invaluable to the gardens eco system I try to just waft them away rather than zapping them!
Herbs – Propagate woody herbs like rosemary and lavender by taking side shoots and put them either into pots of compost or into a patch of garden that is fairly shaded but moist. This will give you a new batch of plantlets next year that can replace any that have got snarled and woody.
Potatoes and vegetables - First early potatoes have probably been harvested now and you may be on to your next batch. There is nothing to beat digging up your own home grown produce, preparing, cooking and eating it. I grew these Charlotte potatoes in large pots this year and have had good yields from each pot. These are great for children to grow, along with carrots, tomatoes and herbs.
Have fun and enjoy your garden!