The Garden in August
A concise guide to some of the jobs that need to be done in August and a selection of some of the plants that are at their best during the month.
The summer months can often last well into September but I think August represents the last of the proper summer months. If you are a keen grower of vegetables, August is a busy month for you as you reap the rewards of your hard work in previous months, hopefully you will have plenty of produce to harvest. Often the weather in August is hot and humid so take some time out to sit and relax in your garden this month. If you are off on holiday make sure you have a plan in place to keep your favourite plants well watered whilst you are away.
Many gardeners complain that their gardens lack colour and interest during the late summer period. But if you do some research, and choose the correct plants your garden can be as colourful in August as it is in May, June or July.
Some Jobs that Need to be Done this Month
Produce New Plants from Semi-ripe Cuttings
Some plants can be propagated during the late summer months from semi-ripe cuttings. Semi-ripe cutting material taken at this time of year is neither too juvenile nor too woody and is perfect for reproducing plants such as Fuchsias and Penstemons. Look for non-flowering shoots on the parent plants and cut off just below a leaf joint, giving you a cutting that has four of five pairs of leaves. Strip off the two lowest pairs of leaves and dip in hormone rooting compost. Then firm the cuttings into pots of cuttings compost, about six per pot is ideal and then place in cold frame. You should find that many of the cuttings will have rooted by next spring.
Many of us take a holiday in August. Read our article ‘Watering whilst you are away’ which includes useful advice and ideas to make sure that all of your favourite plants are still alive when you return from your holiday.
Prune Summer Flowering Shrubs
Any shrubs that have recently finished flowering can be pruned now. Shrubs such as Philadelphus, Deutzia and Weigela are examples. Prune out stems that have flowered and if you think the centre has become congested you can prune out up to one third of the oldest stems right down to ground level. When you have finished pruning, feed the shrub by mulching around the base with some well-rotted manure or garden compost.
In the Vegetable Garden
Harvest: Peas, French beans, Tomatoes, Onions, Radish, Carrots, Turnips, Beetroot, Spinach, Cauliflowers, Cabbages, Lettuce, Globe artichokes, Broad beans, Runner beans, Marrows, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Celery, Sweetcorn, Aubergines, Peppers and Pumpkins.
Other Jobs to do in the Garden this Month
- When raspberry canes have finished fruiting prune them to ground level
- Tie flowers that are flopping over on to stakes
- Regularly spray roses against greenfly and blackspot
- Water and feed containers and hanging baskets regularly
Our Plant of the Month
Whilst training in horticulture I spent a year of my course on work experience at Notcutts Nurseries in Woodbridge, Suffolk. One of the skills I learnt there was bench grafting and I spent many weeks grafting Hibiscus syriacus cultivars on to their rootstocks. In a funny kind of way, spending such a long time propagating the same plant endeared me to the Hibisicus syriacus shrubs.
Many shrubs have finished flowering as August arrives, but the Hibiscus syriacus shrubs are just about to bloom. Hibiscus syriacus ‘Oiseau Bleu’ like all of the cultivars has large tropical, trumpet-shaped blooms and as the name suggests they are bright blue on ‘Oiseau Bleu’. Despite the appearance of the flowers Hibiscus syriacus shrubs are fully hardy. After opening in August, the flowers last well into autumn. Ideal for a site in full sun with good drainage, Hibiscus syriacus ‘Oiseau Bleu’ will grow up to 3 metres in height and 2 metres in spread.
Other Plants of Interest this Month
- Achillea millefolium ‘Red Velvet’
- Ceratostigma willmottianum ‘Forest Blue’
- Clematis ‘Gravetye Beauty’
- Dahlia ‘David Howard’
- Dicentra ‘King of Hearts’
- Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’
- Eryngium bourgattii
- Helenium ‘Ruby Tuesday’
- Hemerocallis ‘Pink Damask’
- Knautia macedonica ‘Mars Midget’
- Phlox paniculata ‘David’
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