As we head into August we’re moving towards ‘late summer’ (where did the year go!). In some ways your gardening tasks are getting easier; the summer bedding is in place, the major weeding is done as the spring and early summer growing period is past. On the downside, especially in dry summers, by August much of your planting may be looking tired, straggly or just plain thirsty. Here’s a quick round up of tips to help keep your garden looking fresh and attractive through later summer and into the early autumn.
Drought Resistant Species
Building these into your planting schemes will give you easy care plants that cut down on your workload, consider Lavender, Thyme, or Sedums. We love Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’, dark leaves with ruby red flowers that will encourage bees into your garden.
In spring, deep mulch helps cut down on the weeding, in summer it cuts down on your watering. The great news is that if you have a lawn you have ready grown mulching material in the form of your grass cuttings. Don’t throw them straight onto your beds, spread them in a sunny space, leave for 24 hours, turn and leave for another 24 hours, or until the grass has started to brown. Then spread around thirsty plants such as Phloxes, Asters or Aconitums. Mulch can attract slugs who also seek moisture so don’t use it around their favourite foods such as Hostas or Dahlias.
Cut back scraggly growth
Many flowers and shrubs will benefit from being cut back hard now, a technique sometimes known as the ‘Chelsea Crop’ after the famous garden exhibition. Campanulas and Sedums would be good examples but you can try it on any plant where the flowers are past their best and the plant itself is looking untidy. The result should be a new flush of flowers on a shorter bushier plant that will better withstand autumn gales. You may need to water afterwards in dry conditions as this treatment is something of a shock for the plant.
Now’s a great time to be talking to your Fantastic Gardeners about how to make your garden look even better next year. If you have a greenhouse you can sow Winter-flowering Pansies for late autumn and winter colour, or Violas for the spring. Poppies, Cornflowers, Calendulas and Larkspur can all be sown outdoors in August to give earlier flowers next year.
Don’t forget your veggies! ‘Arctic King’ or ‘Winter Gem’ lettuce can both be sown in the greenhouse to go outdoors later in the month and it’s not too later to get another crop of Radishes in before the weather turns.