MY GARDEN by Philippa Thomas

August is Our Month of Sheer Magnificence in Our Gardens. So many flowers are in bloom such as Agapanthus, different types of Hydrangeas, Crocosmias, Lilies, Asters, Cosmos, Heleniums, Nicotianas, Fuchsias, Dahlias, Penstemons, Rudbeckias, Agastaches, Sedums, Buddleia-Davidi, not to mention Clematis, especially The Viticella varieties.  – Then, drought loving tolerant plants from the Americas, they begin to perform strongly as our days shorten, especially Salvias, particularly named forms, S. Microphylla and S. Jamensis.  Some plants that flowered earlier are forming seed heads which can look great or may need to be removed to prevent self sowing.  Dense planting, hot or windy weather, low humidity and then, plants with large soft leaves, all need to be watered well especially if they live in un-glazed containers.

“Gardens are places in which you escape and dream but most of all they should give you pleasure.” …… The nicest gardens generally reflect the personality of their owner and the most intriguing gardens always have something in common – the element of surprise … A simple garden ornament/sculpture can be an easy way to inject interest, perhaps even a touch of drama into your garden. Isn’t there something very compelling about a placed object, no matter what it is, because it instantly arouses curiosity.  A cheap object well placed can be a triumph.  An ornament can consist of a simple pile of old red bricks artistically arranged or a selected rock or a found object from a dump, skip or salvaged yard, Remember, ‘Less is More.’

Trees, Majestic Trees

Many people worry that a tree will overpower a small garden but the key is finding the right place and the right tree ……. The right tree can transform a garden. Trees deserve to take centre stage.  I heard the following stated on the radio yesterday.  “Trees are a magnetic presence that honour the seasons.”  Don’t trees give a sense of permanence and compared with the price of a pergola or a retaining brick wall, the cost of a tree, in a well considered position is a worthwhile investment.  A sister of mine, thoughtfully gave me recently, an Amelanchier Ainifolia ‘Obelisk’ (small tree up to 3m high, narrow upright habit, rich flowering with pure white flowers in spring, very hardy, fruits and will grow in any type of soil).  Within a single day, our modest space (upraised patio) was transformed into a secret area, sheltered by quietness and animated by only the sunset and a swish of Precious tail, against the leg of our wrought iron chair.

Plants Grown in Containers

Plants in containers can make such a statement. They can create a focal point and they can inject extra colour when other plants have passed their best.  I suppose the greatest benefit of containers is their portability and variety.  Containers of flowering Lilies inserted into a summer border can revitalise it instantly, then pots with fragrant scents near entrances are particularly enjoyable on entering and leaving.  However unlike permanent border plants, plants in containers are entirely dependant on us for care and their performance reflects the treatment they receive.  Maybe, if a colourful container has gone into decline this month, water all its plants heavily over a few days, cut away old straggly growth and then give a liquid feed to boost it on.

Something to Think About

I read recently, in the garden ‘Which’ magazine, where a plantsman planted in groups according to the Continents of the World – how fascinating, yes amazing. August too, is a great month for sowing fast growing autumn salads, that will look well on the table right through till the end of September, and really, there is such an excellent range of types of salad leaves out there, such as Mizuna, then the Oriental Mustards, among these, Red Frills, Green Frills, Green Waves, Tatsoi (Spinach Mustard), Rocket, Watercress and Micro Greens.  Most of them tend to be quite spicy and generally add a mustardy flavour to salads.

Might Do, Maybe Do August Jobs

Any kind of shrub or small tree growing in pots will become hungry after a few years as their roots fill the pot. Soak the plants for a few hours and feed, fortnightly till the end of September.

  1. Herb plants such as Sage, Marjoram, Thyme and Tarragon can be clipped over to encourage growth and any good leaves can be dried or frozen.
  2. Canellias and Pieris in containers should be well-watered right now this month as next springs flower buds are beginning to develop.
  3. Tiny liquor bottles, especially little green bottles are just perfect for rooting soft wood cuttings on the kitchen windowsill. The green in the glass helps avoid direct sunlight burning potential new roots and shoots.
  4. Chicken manure pellets under a blanket of farmyard manure appear for some gardeners to be the ‘Winning Feed,’ especially, for David Austin varieties of roses.
  5. Succulents have such curious shapes, they can make a fresh alternative to cut flowers and being compact they won’t get in the way of good conversation. They may even help, to start one!

Weathered panels of copper or aged mirrors are particularly effective and won’t confuse birds in flight.

Enjoy Every Special August Day.