Enjoying the August Garden
Golden August days in the garden are to be savoured. This is a month to enjoy the velvet richness of colours as the garden reaches maturity and to relax in the evening sun. But, as always, there is plenty to do in the August garden.
Sweet peas are in full bloom now. To extend the season of flowering cut them regularly. Setting seed inhibits further flowering so this is an important job to do on an almost daily basis. Bring the flowers indoors to appreciate the scent of summer days.
August is the month to enjoy the fruits of your labours, the peak of the vegetable year with seemingly endless supplies of tomatoes, squashes, courgettes, onions, garlic, peppers and so on jostling for prize place in the kitchen. It is also the month to get ready for winter and next spring. Sow seeds of lettuce, rocket, winter onions and spring cabbage so they can establish a good root system while the light is still good.
Most hedges can be given their final trim towards the end of this month, as they will not grow much after this and the young birds have left the nest. If you want a level top hedge, fix a post at either end and tie twine between them at the required height. Trim the sides of the hedge first, working from the bottom up, whether using a powered hedge trimmer or hand shears. The reason for working upwards is that as you cut, the trimmings will fall away and you will be better able to see where you are going. Make the hedge wider at the base and narrower at the top. This way it will stand up to the weather better. The top can be trimmed last using the twine as a guide.
Large-leaved hedges such as Laurel cannot be trimmed with shears or hedge trimmers, because these would cut through the large leaves causing them to go brown. The way to cut these hedges is with secateurs. If you have a large hedge this is a long tiresome task, but the hedge will look so much better with no browned-off bits.
Prune rambling roses after they have flowered. It’s really very easy; all you have to remember is they produce flowers on wood produced the previous year. All side shoots that have flowered can be pruned back to one or two buds from the main stems. Any new, strong shoots should be tied in to replace older shoots. Any very old stems should be cut right back down to the base. In this way you’ll encourage new shoots.
Complete summer pruning of Wisteria this month. Again it’s very simple; just prune all the long new whippy growth back to five or six buds from the main stem. This encourages the plant to produce flower buds. If you have a young plant and want to extend the framework, leave the side shoots on but tie them in to where you want the growth to be. Established Wisterias are very vigorous and it’s important to let them know who’s the boss in the garden. Prune this month and again in February and they will reward you with abundance.