Usually in August, high on the jobs list for many gardeners is finding someone to look after things if you’re going away on holiday. This year, though, you probably won’t need to worry about this, so let’s instead make sure that you really enjoy the extra time you’re likely to spend in your gardens.
The most important thing is to keep on top of maintenance, because everything looks better when it’s neat and tidy. Make sure your plants are well watered during dry periods, particularly your containers and any new plantings, and treat your containers to some liquid fertiliser once a fortnight too.
Continue to cut back faded perennials and keep up with deadheading, to prolong the flowering period into autumn. If plants like Alchemilla and hardy Geraniums have finished flowering and their foliage is looking tired, there’s no harm in cutting these back hard. You’ll be rewarded with fresh, green foliage and maybe even a second flush of flowers, too.
Finish pruning summer flowering shrubs, like Philadelphus and Choisya, once they’ve finished blooming, and trim Lavender plants of spent flower heads to keep them neatly shaped and compact. Also prune climbing and rambling roses once the blooms have faded, unless they are repeat flowering varieties.
If you have a Wisteria in your garden, you’ll want to do all you can to keep it producing its magnificent flowers. That means pruning it twice a year, and now is the time for the summer prune. Once your Wisteria has finished flowering, use sharp secateurs to cut back this season’s whippy green shoots to five or six leaves from the main stem, producing shorter flowering spurs which will hopefully result in more flowers next year. Whilst doing this, tie in stems to fill any gaps in your wall or trellis.
Grasses are enjoying a surge in popularity just now and I’m not surprised, as these wonderful plants really come into their own in late summer. Stipa tenuissima looks so graceful as it moves with the breeze, and the stunning arching stems and feathery seed-heads of Miscanthus sinensis will bring a splash of elegance to your garden, either as a specimen or towards the back of a border. Both these grasses, along with Calamagrostis, look superb paired with late summer perennials, such as Echinacea, Crocosmia and Rudbeckia, creating a very appealing, prairie garden effect.
Keep topping up ponds and bird baths in dry weather. Most of all, enjoy your gardens!