August Gardening Tips 2023
On one of our new bags for life we have the slogan ‘there’s no such thing as too many plants’. It is a sentiment that I have clearly taken to heart!
Last week I bought alstroemeria ‘Summer Skies’ which is a lovely creamy yellow. I used it to fill a gap in our newish yellow and blue border. It now sits in front of rose Nye Bevan accompanied by blue petunia, lavender and self-seeded calendula with hardy geranium Roseanne in the foreground.
Somehow the addition of this one plant is pulling the rest of the border together. I know that we are going to have to keep our new alstroemeria well-watered over the summer, but it just goes to show how the addition of a feature plant can really add something special to a planting scheme and keep it fresh. It doesn’t necessarily draw attention to itself, it just makes the whole so much better.
Of course, a contrasting flower colour or form can be used to make a statement if your planting is looking a bit monobloc. Consider a bright dahlia, rudbeckia or echinacea. Today I bought a wonderful wafty perovskia which is a small shrub with silvery-green foliage and blue flowers that are attractive to bees and butterflies.
Some people only buy plants in the spring. Unless you have great foresight, or a really exacting plant list, this makes it tricky to create a garden for all seasons, especially as not all plants are available at the same time. Each month I like to add a plant (or more – it is so easy to be tempted when your place of work is a garden centre!) to provide a good succession of flowers and interest whatever the season. This means there are always some tempting flowers, pollen, nectar or berries for wildlife to enjoy too.
I have mentioned watering. It has certainly been on the damp side recently, but if it gets dry again it is important to keep an eye out for plants that are showing signs of stress. Look out for plants which set their buds in autumn and flower in early spring such as rhododendrons and camellias. They really need moisture to help the buds to swell. Container grown plants need particular care, water and feed regularly, especially if you are growing peat free.
Keep deadheading bedding plants, dahlias and roses to promote further flowers (it is a good idea to feed roses after a robust deadheading) and give a little haircut to hebes and lavender. Remember not to cut into the woody stems of lavender as they only re-shoot from green stems. Because there is ‘no such thing as too much lavender’ either, create new plants by taking semi ripe cuttings. We always give our hedges a trim at this time of year and prune wisteria and rambling roses after flowering.
I mentioned calendula at the start of this piece. We grew them from seed last year and a number have come up again, unbidden but most welcome. If you don’t want to rely on plants self seeding, then collect some seeds this month from hardy annuals and perennials including hardy geraniums and calendula.
Above all I hope you enjoy your garden this August and always.