August has always been one my least favorite months in the garden; but plentiful spring rain has resulted in bountiful fragrance, bloom and foliage. We have a relatively short growing season here in New England and to enjoy a healthy colorful border is so satisfying. However, by this time in the season, when early perennials have gone by, there are a few gaps to fill in with annuals or later blooming perennials.
Gardens are a constantly changing scene of beauty in motion and plantings that looked good last year, may be oversized, and in need of division or transplant. When the weather is cooler in September, transplanting can be tackled on some overgrown specimens, so that every plant has its own space with good air circulation and are able to perform at their best.
Divide those plants that have been in the soil for four years or more. You may have noticed that these plants are not blooming as profusely as they did when first planted. When you divide and set aside the divisions, as there are always fellow gardeners who will be grateful to receive some transplants.
Now, continue to keep up the deadheading; by doing so your garden will always appear fresh and perky. After the hot, dry days we have had of late, watering is of major importance. In this regard, make sure your garden receives at least one inch of water a week and that your containers receive 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; using this method, the water goes straight to the roots where it is needed. By using soaker hoses you will not lose 40 percent of moisture to evaporation and you are also preventing water from landing on plant foliage, which can result in disease and mildew.
When you cut back tired looking annuals, a new flush of bloom will appear in a few short weeks. On closer inspection some of you may notice that the borders are looking somewhat weary and need a bright boost of new specimens to perk things up. These specimens may be found right now as many 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 enjoy the appearance of vibrant bright bloom shortly.
It is of the utmost importance to stop feeding roses now, in August. The reason for this is that roses require at least nine weeks to gently go 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 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 may be appearing on certain species like Summer Phlox, Monarda and Hydrangeas. If you notice this problem, I suggest spraying 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 keep furry marauders away.
September is the month to transplant, divide or plant Peonies. Following the first hard frost in November cut any existing Peonies down to within 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 make sure that the ‘pink eyes’ on the roots are barely covered with soil, if the Peonies are 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 [email protected]. I look forward to seeing you in your garden in September, in the meantime enjoy being outdoors and remember to stretch, hydrate and take time to smell the bloom.
If you would like a garden consultation or conversation with my son Ian, of LandscapesbyIan.com, feel free to get in touch with him. As the saying goes ‘ the apple does not fall far from the tree’ and, in my estimation, Ian has outpaced me with regard to creativity and production!
About the author: Maureen Haseley-Jones 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.