Georgie Steward’s August Gardening Club


August – the month of painterly clouds, bleached grass on the verges, sunshine and holidays?? Or rather a washed-out wasteland at home, courgettes more like marrows, hosepipe bans, and collapsing borders?! It can all do with a good tidy up and cut back.


Cut back

Cut back those rangy geraniums to ground level, the same with old delphinium flower spikes and the catmint that has gone wild and if you can find the time, water well and even give it a feed of liquid seaweed – both on the leaves and at the roots – and you will be rewarded in a few weeks with a fresh look for late summer.

Trim out tired flowerheads of Stachys Byzantina. I tend to take down foxgloves before the last flowers are over – I find they look rather tired and will self sow willy nilly and not necessarily where I want them. Bronze fennel is another one that I will be making a point of cutting right back once the seeds turn brown to avoid it seeding around.  

Be bold! It will look a little scrappy for a couple of weeks – but it will reinvigorate the garden. 


Off with their heads!

Once plants have produced seed they stop flowering. So in August, to fool the plant into producing new flowers and prevent die back, we need to keep on at the deadheading – dahlias, cosmos, pelargoniums, roses, even phlox, campanulas, perennial erysimum and some veronica. You will often see new buds further down the stems and these will produce colour for a few more weeks.

Be definite about the deadheading. Don’t just pinch off the head – cut back to a leaf or to the point where another stem branches.


Summer Pruning

Lavender

Lavender – As soon as flowers have faded, give the entire plant a trim with shears, removing the faded blooms and a little of the stem beneath. Try not to go into the really woody part. Don’t wait for seedheads to form or the flowers to turn brown as you need the maximum amount of time for the plants to form nice bushy clumps again before Winter.

Wisteria – Shorten these wispy shoots and sideshoots back now to about 5/6 leaves from the main frame work. It will need to be pruned again in midwinter. Leave some long growth to cover wall space where needed.

Rambling Rose

Rambling roses – Ramblers flower on stems produced the previous year.  So you just need to be able to differentiate between this years flowering stems (which will still have spent flowers on them) and the long wippy stems put on more recently that will bare glorious flowers for next year! So, cut back the side shoots that bore this years’ flowers to one or two buds from the main stem.  Next remove any dead, diseased or damaged spindly growth, remove any very old stems completely at the base and finally tie in the new vigorous stems.

This all comes with a big BUT – if your rambler produces gorgeous hips in the Autumn, leave this job a bit longer so you can enjoy them.


Vegetable Tips

Keep watering and feeding your tomatoes and checking for pesky diseases such as blossom end rot (courgettes can also suffer from this) which can usually be cured by consistent watering. Tomatoes will also benefit from a weekly feed to really get those fruits tasty.  They can get very leafy around now, especially when grown in a greenhouse like mine, so start to remove foliage to get more light to the fruits.

Harvest onions and leave to dry out for a bit before tying/storing. And if you have a courgette glut try making soup with some onion, fresh mint and a tin of evaporated milk (secret ingredient) and freeze for winter.

Cut down your sweet peas when they have finished flowering, saving some seed if you like, but leave their roots in the ground as they will add nitrogen.

If you’re feeling up to it, sow one last sowing of perpetual spinach, chard and beetroot and get some cabbages in for winter.


Weeding

Weeds continue to romp away this month and it’s so hard to keep on top of them.  Weed in the heat of the day and leave them to frazzle. If you are going away and, like me, you have both bindweed AND ground elder, paint the leaves with glyphosate and cover them with a plastic bag so the surrounding area is unaffected. By the time you get back the roots should have died.


Watering

At this time of year, it’s important to save water for what really needs it. Your borders should be fine. You will need to keep an eye on anything you have planted recently, particularly shrubs or trees. Pots and the veg plot will be most in need.  Water deep to soak the root zone two/three times a week, rather than a light sprinkle more frequently. And if you’re going away, it would be useful to put saucers underneath any pots to harness any rain water that comes our way.

And don’t worry about the lawns – grass will always recover.


Feeding

Bare in mind that anything that has been cut back, deadheaded or pruned is being coaxed to work a bit harder for you and so it’s only fair they get given a nice drink and feed afterwards – something like liquid seaweed ought to do the trick. Incidentally something I have learnt recently is that foliar feeding is just as important as putting it on the roots as plants can actually feed through their leaves – so swish it over the whole plant and you will reap the rewards. Just make sure the solution mix is right. 

‘Feed Friday’ works for me – and I douse my tomatoes, courgettes, sweet peas and also my containers with a bucket load of it.


Plug the gaps

It is a good moment to take a long hard look at the borders and critique it, decide which plants should stay and which should go. Make notes of the things you did/didn’t like this year, any gaps that have appeared, combinations in your planting that did/didn’t work.


Follow fanatical gardener and plantaholic Georgie on instagram @georgielovestogarden



Other similar posts