August has always been one of my least favorite months in the garden; but plentiful spring rain this year has resulted in bountiful fragrance, bloom and foliage.
We have such a short blooming and growing season here in New England that any extra time to have a good-looking border is much appreciated. However, by this time in the season, there are always a few gaps to fill in with annuals or some later blooming perennials. Your gardens are a constantly changing scene of beauty in motion.
Plantings that looked good last year, may be oversized, and desperately in need of division or transplant. This task can be tackled in September when the weather is cooler. Then you can venture into your borders and transplant some specimens out so that every plant has its own space with plenty of air circulation and is able to perform with optimal health.
Divide those plants that have been in the soil for four years or more, as you probably noticed they are not blooming so profusely. I am sure you have fellow gardeners who will be thrilled to receive some of the divisions.
Keeping Your Garden Fresh:
Keep up with your dead-heading so that your garden will always appear fresh and perky. After the hot, dry days we have had of late, watering is of major importance. Ensure your garden receives at least one inch of water a week with containers requiring a daily dose of water, in the early morning and early evening.
Soaker hoses in the borders are a much more efficient method of watering as the water goes straight to the roots where it is needed. With soaker hoses you will not lose 40 percent of moisture to evaporation and with this method, you also prevent water from landing on the foliage, which can result in disease and mildew.
When you cut back tired-looking annuals, you will soon see a new flush of bloom. If on closer inspection, you notice your borders are looking somewhat weary and need a bright boost of some new specimens to perk things up, you are in luck as right now garden centers are offering late season bargains.
When the perennial Coreopsis and Spirea have finished blooming, cut off the dead bloom with the garden shears and anticipate the appearance of vibrant bright bloom shortly.
It is important to stop feeding roses now in August. Roses require at least nine weeks without using their energy, this is important as to produce new bloom roses need to gently retreat into a slow, healthy dormancy before the first frost. In my September tips I will give you suggestions on partially pruning roses in early fall, followed by a second pruning the following April. This double pruning method produces the healthiest and most prolific bloom.
Every couple of weeks give your containers a little extra composted manure when watering, which will keep these miniature gardens bright and cheerful into early fall. Add the manure on top of the natural brown mulch as both manure and mulch help retain moisture and help to retard weeds.
In the morning, if you do not have time to water the containers before you go off to work or run errands, simply empty your ice trays into the containers, this will provide slow-release watering until you are able to add more when you return home.
With the high heat and humidity which we have been experiencing recently, powdery mildew maybe appearing on certain species like summer phlox, Monarda and Hydrangeas. If you notice this problem, I suggest you spray with my remedy of one gallon of water in a spray container adding one tablespoon of baking soda and a dash of vegetable oil. Always spray in the morning before the temperature and humidity numbers, combined together equal 160.
Continue adding more composted manure to vegetables each month, as vegetables particularly annual vegetables are heavy feeders. To prevent animals from munching on your precious bounty, place an old sneaker or a piece of carpet that your dog had lain on in among the vegetables; these odors help to keep furry marauders away.
Place your orders for Peonies now so they can be delivered for September planting. September is the only month suitable to transplant, divide or plant new Peonies.
Following the first hard frost in November, cut any existing Peonies to six inches from the ground and add a little natural brown mulch around them to protect the pink-eyed roots, which are close to the soil surface. When planting Peonies or transplanting them, make sure that the ‘pink eyes’ on the roots are barely covered with soil, if planted any deeper, it is likely that you may not have bloom next year.
Begin compiling your list of spring bulbs now for the best choice of bulbs to be available for you.
Please feel free to email me with any gardening questions to MaureenHaseleyJones@gmail.com. I look forward to seeing you in your garden in September, in the meantime enjoy being outdoors.
About the author: Maureen Haseley-Jones, pictured left, is a member of a family of renowned horticultural artisans, whose landscaping heritage dates back to the 17th century. She is one of the founders, together with her son Ian, of, The English Lady Landscape and Home Company. Maureen and Ian are landscape designers and garden experts, who believe that everyone deserves to live in an eco-conscious environment and enjoy the pleasure that it brings. Maureen learned her design skills from both her mother and grandmother, and honed her horticultural and construction skills while working in the family nursery and landscape business in the U.K. Her formal horticultural training was undertaken at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in Surrey.