August in my Garden by Philippa Thomas

Even in the height of Summer, gardening requires us to slow down, contemplate and appreciate details in life that can easily be missed if running around at full speed.  Is gardening not Green Therapy? – It too, can contribute huge benefits towards bereavement, many illnesses and loneliness.  It provides such a distraction to occupy ones mind.  Gardening gives a sense of purpose, focus and an end result for our efforts.  Scientific research has proven that getting dirty is actually good for us.  …Soil contains the harmless bacterium ‘Mycobactor lum vaccae’, which releases dopamine and serotonin, a natural anti-depressant in the brain and makes us happy.

What a wonderful cycle of life is going on right under our very noses.  We literally can plant HOPE.  Keep picking your herbs while their leaves are at their freshest.  There are lots of ways of preserving them if you don’t want to use them straight away, including freezing, drying, putting them in oil or putting in ice cubes.  If necessary, cut back herbs now, to encourage a new flush of fresh leaves.  If you want to keep a steady supply of home-grown herbs inside, grow two or three plants that you can rotate outdoors.  – This will give them some sunshine every few weeks.  Many gardeners feel that growing Basil indoors is more successful than growing outdoors.  …Then, the only species of coriander that doesn’t seem to bolt (that doesn’t send up a flower stalk) is Calypso.  It can be cut four times during the Summer before this species seems to deteriorate.

Did you know that the National Trust, not so long ago announced that it will phase out selling single use plastic items, by 2022.  All disposable food and drink packaging will be fully biodegradable, coffee cups will be reusable or biodegradable, glass bottles will replace plastic and alternatives for plastic plant pots in nurseries.

Wasps are actually a gardener’s ally as they feed on the young of aphids and caterpillars.  It’s generally only in the late Summer that they are a problem when they’ve finished rearing their young.  Unfortunately, no-one likes to be stung and many people panic at the sight of them.  Toothpaste, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, Lavender essential oil, Witch Hazel and Tea Tree Oil relieve the symptoms of bee stings.

Leaf-Cutting Bees:

Neat, circular or elliptical circles are removed from the foliage and used by bees to make cylindrical cells in their nests.  Leaf-cutting bees are solitary but like other bees are extremely useful pollinators.  Try to enjoy their presence and definitely, do not harm them.


Bird Baths will quickly evaporate or become full of algae growth.  Remember to clean them out regularly in order to help our birds during the worst heat.


Check your hedge first to make sure that there are no active nests as it is an offense to damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.

Finally, Glyphosate is marketed as a weed-killer under various names, the most well known being Roundup.  In November 2017, E.U. countries voted to renew the licence for Glyphosate, keep it on our shelves until 2023 at least.  The E.F.S. has said that the chemical is unlikely to cause cancer.  However, due to health and environmental concerns France plans to ban the use of Glyphosate within three years.

Might Do Maybe, August Jobs

  1. Keep your Camellias and Rhododendrons well watered at this time of year to ensure that next year’s buds develop well.
  2. Dead-head Lilies for a better flower display next year.
  3. Trim Lavender plants after they’ve finished flowering to keep them compact.
  4. Using boiling water as a weed-killer on your paved area can work very well.
  5. Place seeds in fridge the day prior to sowing in order to cool the seed and break temperature induced dormancy, thus giving more even germination.
  6. Roses: Pull up any suckers that you find at their bases.
  7. Move your pots into shade so that they dry out slower while you are away on holidays.
  8. Damp down the greenhouse floor first thing in the morning every day as it will help lower temperature and ease humidity.
  9. Quick growers, such as beetroot can be sown until August for a crop before the end of the season.
  10. It is best to give your plants a good soaking once a week rather than sprinkling them every day which can encourage shallow rooting, making them more vulnerable to drought. Try to aim water at the base of the plant to help against fungal diseases.

Delicious Rose Petal Jam

Enjoy a treat for Summer Cream Tea, spoon over ice-cream, Greek yoghurt or a Victoria sponge cake.  Choose rich red, heavily scented roses.  Pick the roses in full bloom and remove the petals from the flowers.  Snip off the white bases and discard.


  • 8oz rose petals.
  • 1lb sugar.
  • Juice of 2 lemons.
  • 1 litres (2 pints) water.


  • Place the petals in a large bowl.
  • Add approximately half the sugar, stir vigorously to bruise the petals and distribute the sugar.
  • Cover and leave overnight to draw the fragrance from the petals.
  • Pour the water and lemon juice into a pan. Stir in the rest of the sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Do not boil.
  • Add the rose petals into the pan and stir gently. Continue heating gently and allow to simmer quietly for ten minutes.  Then raise the cooking heat and boil for 5 minutes until it starts to thicken.
  • Bottle into sterilised jars and allow to cool.