August has already given us some glorious sunshine and plenty of beautifully warm days – and while there may be a little rain (OK, a lot of rain coming) – this is a combination that our plants will absolutely love.
True, the evenings are that little bit shorter now and this signals a change in gear for our gardens. I don’t mean a gentle slide down into Autumn, rather an expectation for a late great, fantastic finish to the year!
The turning season signals a rise in hot hot colours with Crocosmias, Rudbeckias (bright golds as well as the beautuful tawny browns), Heleniums and myriad Dahlias taking centre stage, while Salvias step up their game with deep indigos (Salvia Amistad), sky blues (Salvia uglinosa) and neon (a range of Salvias with blackcurrant-scented leaves). Penstemons come in a whole host of colours and, regularly deadheaded, will go on for months.
Help things along and continue to deadhead right through the garden to prolong the display and for your containers, water well and feed generously (any rain is unlikely to be enough). Dahlias in pots are especially hungry creatures. I’ve just invested in an automatic watering system for my containers though I’ve yet to set it up. This can deliver water through drip tubes to 25 pots (I’m sure to have more however) at sunrise or sunset (or both) for set times. If I get on holiday, this will be a real godsend and if I connect it up discreetly enough, might be able to leave the back garden on an automated watering schedule throughout the season. We’ll see – it’ll be a fiddly job for one day next week.
If you have wisteria, now is the time to prune all of those whippy shoots back to the main branch framework – to about 5 buds – it’s a two-part job to be continued in January. If you are unsure, just ask our horticultural team at the nursery.
Trim back your summer-flowering Lavender – just into the soft new growth below the flower spikes – to keep them neat and tidy. There are new late-flowering varieties just coming into bloom, a fragrant feast for the eye as well as the bees.
In the vegetable plot, you should be reaping the rewards of all your hard work now, harvesting a whole host of produce but there is still time to squeeze in a last sowing of spinach, chard and salad leaves. Watch tomatoes and potatoes for blight – water and feed tomatoes regularly to keep them healthy and productive.
Stock up on seeds for autumn-sowing (for early flowers and crops next year) and look out for Spring bulbs in stores so you can plan your displays of Narcissus and Tulips and all manner of bright beauties for your pots and borders next year. Buy early when the choice is greatest and get them into the ground in September so they can connect with the soil and bulk up with even more energy for a spring-flowering extravaganza!