My Garden by Philippa Thomas

August is our last true month of Summer in Ireland so with summer in full swing, our focus turns to watering, weeding, deadheading and filling odd gaps. …So, let’s leap into our hopefully, endless, balmy sunny days – let’s sit out, wile about and really enjoy our plant filled gardens.   …Colour is the key in the garden presently, however green, in my eyes, is such a cool, calming, invigorating colour with its endless shades, textures and forms…  The surge of energy that has erupted from every single bud is impossible to describe in human terms.  We try, sometimes frantically to keep our gardens in harmony,… we’ve tried to pre-empt heavy rain showers with suitable stakes, ties, frames etc., so This August, let’s simply try to keep as much in order as possible with a sense of acceptance, awe and huge gratitude.  There is still time to sow some lettuce, rocket, radishes etc.  …Pouring a freshly boiled kettle of water on your seedbed before sowing is the easiest and possibly the best way to warm your soil.  Bold foliage is zingy, so sow salad leaves in small patches, they’ll give colour in 3 or 4 weeks, such as Mustard Greens, ‘Red Giant’, ‘Mizune’, ‘Red Knight’, Pak Choi, ‘Red Wizard’; Spinach, ‘Reddy’ and Kale, ‘Red Russian’.  …After all the hard work of growing our crops, – to miss the moment when beans, courgettes and salads are at their peak is a shame, some veg. quickly go over if not picked every day or so.  Why not share some with a neighbour, who will no doubt, welcome you with open Dalkey arms!

It is so tricky to time when to cut back, feed and water repeat flowering perennials. There always seems to be some established flower left on the plants but if we don’t do it soon, the plants won’t have enough time to re-flower before the autumn.  I find hand weeding, the very best for weeds rooted in cobblelock and gravelly areas.  There’s nothing more satisfying than yanking out the lot, its entire root system, which hopefully will not re-appear – , if you got it before it self-seeded!  …When you see a Ladybird in your garden, pick it up and place it in your green house or on your roses or on anything you’re worried about.  …It will make itself at home in no time and hungrily devour the pests – maybe consider making a Ladybird Tower?

Finally, keep removing/pinching out the side shoots on cordon tomato plants (cordon means that tomatoes are trained as one main stem that can reach over 2m tall). Pinch out the main growing point when six trusses have formed so the plant can concentrate its energies on ripening the fruit.

Birds.

Different seasons will bring both indigenous and migration birds into our gardens. Birds simply need three things to survive, – water, food and shelter.  A bird bath is ideal, allow it to fill with rainwater as tap water can contain high levels of nitrogen and fluoride.  If possible, have a sloping edge on one side to allow small birds and other wildlife to drink without falling in.  If you find your bird feeders aren’t getting any visitors – , move to a quieter spot within a few meters of a hedge.

Might Do, Maybe August Jobs

1.   Our patio pots and baskets can stay looking good into autumn, if you give them a little TLC. Remove the flowers as they fade and start liquid feeding when plants start to look tired.

2.   Lavender: Trim Lavender, once the flowers have faded by August, cut them off. Just cut into the top growth but not older, woody parts.  This will keep your plants busy, and neat.  The variety ‘Hidcote’ is one of the hardiest of the various Lavenders which can be helpful to know as Lavenders detest wet Winters.

3.   One plant that we must watch and help is our Camellias. They should not be let dry out as they are preparing their flower and leaf growth for next Spring.

4.   Topiary: To help plants recover after their trim, feed the foliage with seaweed extract – , it seems to instantly, green them up.

5.   Roses: After the first flush of roses in Summer has faded, maybe give another high-potassium feed. Best to water it in if the weather’s dry, otherwise, it won’t work properly.

6.   Maybe, move structural houseplants outside to fill gaps. Potted Dahlias, Cannas etc., dropped into beds where Astrantias, Poppies etc. have faded can create quite a dramatic effect.

Bags of compost from previous seasons could fail to produce good results as the fertiliser included in the bag can break down and be released into the compost. Young plants sitting in this will be damaged by high nutrient levels…  You can tell that your bag is old stock by almost the packaging itself and then, its heaviness/weight.  …Look out for the barcode saying   …17, sometimes to be seen on the bottom edge of the bag.

 

“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”   Janet Kilburn Philips

“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.”   Gertrude Jekyll

“We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s our garden that is nurturing us.”   Jenny Uglow