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Although usually the hottest month, August can be a mixed bag for the gardener especially this Summer as there has been a definite lack of sunshine with even the occasional nip in the air, especially at night. While watering will always be a priority this month, including topping up ponds and bird baths, it is obviously weather dependant, so we have also focused on some other August gardening jobs to be done, whether you’re basking in full sun or reaching for a cardigan by the Bank Holiday weekend.
Short spurs which produce the elegant, pendulous blooms of your wisteria in Spring will be encouraged by pruning in August after flowering has finished, in addition to the annual winter prune in February. There are many fabulously informative videos on exactly how to prune this deciduous shrub at this time of year and we would recommend taking a look at expert advice from the RHS that covers both prunings to ensure you get the most out of this woody perennial. The basic rule of thumb in Summer is to cut the whippy shoots back to four or five buds along from the start of this season’s growth. You can also remove any unwanted shoots at ground level in order to give strength to the main stem, and if a second bloom does appear, you’ll need to repeat the process to control the renewed growth. It’s really worth giving this vigorous grower a good going over in August to avoid it getting too tangled but also to prepare it for further cutting back in early Spring.
Acid-loving plants such as Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Camelias will usually start their regeneration process in August by forming the buds that will create a splendid display next Spring. As well as keeping them thoroughly watered in hotter August temperatures to support this process, it’s important to remember that tap water will often contain a lot of calcium which washes the acidity away from the soil around the roots. This is just another good reason why a water butt is a must for happy gardening as the rainwater it collects is slightly acidic.
Flowering containers, baskets and pots will always benefit from a liquid feed every fortnight in Summer as well as being watered thoroughly every day if possible. Rather than buying an expensive product ‘off the shelf’, it is possible to make your own ‘compost tea’ using a few simple steps, especially if you have your own compost heap. A basic recipe is to fill a bucket with a third compost then top up with water before covering and leaving the compost to leach into the liquid for a week or two before straining off the natural liquid feed. It is best used at the base of plants straightaway so no nutrients are lost and we think you’ll find that this homemade feed is as restorative for flora as a good cuppa is for us!
Although we may think that our grass will care take of itself this month as long as it is well-watered, there are a couple of tips that will help to prepare the lawn for the coming Autumn and dormant growing season. The first is to top up the nitrogen content, as it is likely to be low at this time of year, by adding a little fertiliser from our Viano range of organic products. You could also think about over-seeding any bare patches that have developed with heavier garden use or ball games over the Summer as it’s not too late to encourage new growth, especially if you use a garden spreader for an even distribution of seeds.
"August is the border between summer and autumn; it is the most beautiful month I know" according to the author Tove Jansson. It is indeed a time to both care for a sunny garden while anticipating colder days to come and we hope you’ll find our recommended tips make the most of this seasonal bridge and the remaining time you can spend outdoors, happily pottering in shorts and a T-shirt.
Enlist the help of friends and family to water your garden while you are away, making sure they give plants in borders a deep root soaking at least once a week, rather than a light touch every day
Top up bird baths and ponds regularly to give all your favourite garden creatures a helping hand
Evergreen shrubs such as camellias and rhododendrons will be starting to develop buds for next year so remember to give them plenty of natural rainwater to support the renewal process
Prune Summer flowering shrubs such as Lilac, Forsythia and Deutzia once they have finished flowering and before they turn woody to promote the build up of bloom-boosting potassium
Trim back lavender to maintain its shape and compactness
Make sure tall lilies and dahlias are staked in order to protect them from the coming elements and dead head to promote flowering next year
Think about sowing for some Autumn colour with plants
Top up nitrogen levels in your lawn with a good fertiliser and over-seed bare patches from Summer use
Dead head annual perennials to encourage further flowering and cut back where necessary to keep borders tidy
Mow natural lawns or meadows to promote the distribution of wild seeds for flowering next year
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