August can be a bit disappointing as many plants have reached or passed their peak and suddenly the garden can be bereft of colour. Don’t feel you can’t sneak a few flowering pots into the gaps in the borders. It’s a quick fix, but it works and you can see if you want to make that addition to the garden for next year.
Sowing and Planting
Some seeds will have ripened by now, and you can scatter them into your borders randomly for next season. I do this with my aquilegias every year as I cut down the old flower spikes. You can hear the distinctive rattle of the thousands of seeds, which ping around as you pull out the stems, and I just shake them into the border. Funnily, I get around the same number of plants each year, in roughly the same places each time. The plants know where they like to grow! Foxgloves and polemoniums can be scattered in the same way, or sown straight into pots so that you can control where you plant them in the next season.
Plant autumn flowering bulbs at this time.
Keep sowing trays of salad for late summer then winter crops. Lettuce, Rocket and Corn Salad are among the salads to keep growing.
Pruning and Plant Management
Keep going with the deadheading and tidying up of bedding plants – you will prolong the flowering period, until autumn bedding comes into the nurseries.
Remember to prune your roses as well to encourage more blooms.
Small cherry trees can be pruned now after fruiting. Other fruit trees such as plums should also be pruned during the summer to avoid diseases such as Silverleaf, which occur in springtime if you prune then. Refer to a good pruning guide such as from the RHS and follow their instructions carefully. Feed and mulch around the base afterwards.
Keep watching out for aphids and other bugs. This year the slug damage is rife, so get out there at night with a torch, and pick them off. Beer traps and nematodes are other ways of controlling slugs, but hand-picking is extremely effective if you can bear it!
Potatoes should be ready now, so start treating yourself to freshly dug veg for dinner!
Remember to feed your tomatoes each week, and keep them from drying out otherwise the fruits will split.
Maintenance and Planning
Gaps in your border planting tend to become obvious now as I mentioned above and that gives you an opportunity to re-think what you might put there for next year if you want to change your planting.
I think it is very helpful to keep a journal with notes about what is happening when in your garden. Mine is very basic: the date, and the stage that key plants are at; what I have planted; what I have picked, plus any useful observations. Even if it is not exhaustive you will find it is a useful prompt when you come to planning your garden next year. It’s a good present to ask for!
And you can do this in the garden with a Gin and Tonic in August.