August is the month for monitoring – staying on top of this year’s flowers while you prep for next year, says gardener Pete Harcom
The weather we have been having lately seems to swing from one extreme to another, doesn’t it? The dry June followed by the wet July – thank goodness our gardens have escaped the heat of mainland Europe.
Jobs for the garden this month:
- August is perhaps the month to simply try and maintain the show of flowering plants, and to clear up the borders and flowers to help the display to continue!
- Keep up the regular feeding and deadheading – especially roses, dahlias and perennials. It really does help to keep the displays going.
- Cut back delphiniums, geraniums and lavender after the first flush of flowers to encourage a second flowering period. Feed them after you cut them back.
- Divide clumps of bearded iris and take cuttings of your patio and container plants ready for next year.
- Thin out any thickly overgrown pond plants.
- Most perennial weeds are best dealt with in the summer when the weeds are in active growth. Sorry to say that digging them out is usually best if you are trying to avoid using weedkillers.
- Start collecting seed from plants you want to grow next year – especially foxgloves, aquilegia, calendula, poppy and love-in-a-mist.
- Sow biennials such as foxgloves, sweet William and wallflowers, honesty and forget-me-nots. They’ll be ready to plant out in the autumn and make a stunning display next spring.
- If pot plants are pestered by nesting ants, try putting the pot in a large saucer with water in it – but have the pot resting on pot stands above the water level.
- Watering hasn’t been an issue lately (!), but on the offchance we should get a burst of hot weather, take extra care of container-grown plants and any in the border that are not yet established. It is always best to water plants in the cooler parts of the day and at the roots only.
- On hot days, water from a hosepipe can be trickled into the pond to help top up and aerate the water. Be sure to also top up bird baths.
- Damping down the floor of the greenhouse regularly on hot days helps.
- Plan ahead if you are going on holiday – maybe a neighbour can help if hot weather is forecast, or at least thoroughly soak plants before you go. There are a number of watering devices available such as watering mats, micro-drip watering systems with a timer, watering spikes and adjustable drip feeders.
- Also, if you are going away it’s a good idea to move hanging baskets and pots to a shady area (just place the hanging baskets on a large pot).
Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre