top of page

July was a mixed month of temperatures and heavy rainfall would have damaged blooms, particularly roses, so a bit of a tidy-up this month I think! Veggies are growing at a rate of knots, so harvest may be a tad early this year. The upside of all that rainfall is there was no need for tap water usage.

Whilst the soil is still warm, fruit planting can be considered as there’s plenty of time for the plants to establish before the cold weather sets in. If you have a spare wall which is in full sun you could try growing apricots, peaches and nectarines. They don’t take up much space and once established can produce heavy crops. They are perfect for eating fresh from the tree and make a juicy change from the apples, pears and plums. If these aren’t to your taste or you don’t have a spare wall, why not grow raspberries or strawberries. These take up even less space and are some of the most delicious fruit that we can grow in our garden. Strawberries grow quite happily in a container, whereas raspberries will do better in a sunny spot against a fence as will gooseberries and currants.

A fun and free job in August is collecting seeds from plants already in your garden that, whilst the resulting plant may be exactly the same as before, there is always the chance that it could look very different as aspects of both parent plants move down the genetic chain.

The best time to collect seeds is on a dry day, after a spell of dry weather, and once any morning dew has evaporated. If you're collecting from sweet peas or poppies, wait until the pods are completely dry, pop the seeds out and store in a paper envelope or bag. Polythene bags should not be used as they trap moisture and encourage mould. Other seeds have different collecting times and methods. Large umbell heads such as fennel need the whole head cutting off, whereas agapanthus need each individual black seed to be picked before storing as before.

Deadhead dahlia and other perennials to encourage more blooms and place a thick mulch around the plants for insects to take down to the roots where nutrients are most needed. Mulching also helps maintain moisture and can deter weed growth, though I'm never entirely sure about mulch preventing weeds - they are plants after all! Containers and hanging baskets need regular deadheading and watering. Feed with a diluted liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks.

August is generally considered to be the month to prune lavender, but I tend to wait until all the flower heads are exhausted of nectar so the bees miss nothing. When pruning, try not to cut into the old, hard wood as this could mean fewer flower stems the following year. New bushes can be planted now until October before the cold sets in. There are many to choose from, though I like the smaller varieties with different shades of lavender thickly grouped around bush roses. I don't have paths in my garden, but always think a path bordered by low growing lavender looks delicious!

If you've been brave enought to grow a wild flower meadow patch, August is the best time to give it a strim and mow as all the seeds from the plants will have scattered and self sown. It is important to remove all the cut material afterwards. I did let a patch at the top of my garden become 'wild' as a springtime one as the patch is surrounded by wonderful cow parlsey that looks so pretty and smells divine. I must confess, though, that I won't be doing it again - the amount of work to tidy up once everything had died back proved to be too much for me. I shall just enjoy the cow parsley on it's own in future!

Continue to mow the standard lawn and, if possible, try not to cut too short as the grass will maintain a better green-ness with more moisture available to it through the leaves. If there isn't time occasionally to cut the whole lawn, just trimming back the edges can make the whole look neat and tidy. Aso, during hot, dry periods it is better not to water too much. Grass will regenerate very quickly and easily.

In the veggie plot, pinch out the top truss of flowers on tomato plants as they're unlikely to produce anything significant.  Onions and shallots can be lifted once their greenery has died back and left out in the sun to dry, but keep an eye on the weather and bring into a cool, light, dry place if rain is forecast. If you have pinned down strawberry runners, these can now be cut from the mother plant and planted out in new beds. Place netting over fruits bushes toprevent the birds pinching them!

I am enoying my new puppy, Martha, but she is hard work! Constant vigilence indoors, both toilet training and chewing stuff, can be tiring, but sitting at my garden table she can be on a long lead or up on the bench with me before her dinner time and it's rather lovely. As, of course, is the chilled white...

bottom of page