August can produce a mixed bag of weather with some high temperatures. We can look forward to many hours of daylight and reasonable overnight temperatures, so aim to keep your plants growing healthily by paying attention to watering and feeding.
- Rambling roses can be pruned now and strong new growth tied in for next season. Continue dead-heading roses to encourage flowering.
- Tall perennials may have started to smother smaller plants, so trim these back (you might get another show later in the summer). The plants languishing underneath will recover.
- Hardy border geraniums can be pruned back and may also flower again later. Trim back lavender as this will encourage bushy compact growth.
- Hedges may also be needing attention – remember to trim working from the bottom up and making the top slightly narrower to allow light to reach down to the base.
- Complete summer pruning of trained fruit trees and wisteria to encourage fruit bud and flower formation.
- To safeguard flowering next spring, keep rhododendrons and camellias well watered during the bud formation stage. Rainwater is best – collect it from the shed or green house roofs.
- If August becomes hot and dry, the lawn will need mowing less frequently. Raise the blades and leave the clippings to form a mulch. Identify the areas to be seeded later in the year and start to prepare them now.
- It’s now the time to lift onions, plant out strawberry runners in their fruiting bed and, when the raspberries are finished, cut back spent canes and tie in 5 or 6 strong new canes for next year.
- Sow hardy annuals for next season such as calendula, nigella and larkspur and prepare some bulbs for Christmas flowering.
- If slugs have been on the rampage, trap the adults who feed at night under tiles and pots and then in daylight turn them over and expose them to their natural predators such as birds, toads, and the carabid beetle. Regular hoeing will turn over the eggs and baby slugs, which are just below the surface, for their predators to find! Only resort to chemical pellets or liquid if infestation is overwhelming.
- Have fresh water available for birds and wildlife and top up ponds on a regular basis.
- If you are thinking of going away, ask a friend to keep an eye on the garden and water plants in containers and harvest ripening crops to maintain production and continuity.
Gardening is a wonderful way to keep fit and enjoy the fresh air. But don’t forget to take a break and come and see us at Ruxley.