GARDENING in AUGUST …the Willowfield Way !

The wet summer has been very good for growth in the garden but not very good for flowering plants. The constant rain has made flowers go soggy very quickly and the cooler than normal nights has encouraged a lot of moulds and other diseases. So disappointing for the summer patio displays during July. However August has shown slight improvement in the weather and there is still time for some fine summer sunshine…PLEASE !

1. The above average rain has been responsible for above average grass growth this year but it has also been hard to get the grass cut. As a result the grass is perhaps a little taller than most summers which has encouraged moss growth. Moss killers can still be used and fertilizer applied to give the grass a boost going into the Autumn. If we do get a settled period of dry weather try and cut the grass down fairly low as this will help expose the moss and may dry up quicker. This low grass will then lead to a more uniform appearance over winter. If you have any areas in the lawn that need re seeding…now is a good time to do it as the seed will germinate fairly quickly in the wet and warm conditions of late summer.
2. Flowers in the hanging baskets and window boxes have suffered from the wet conditions and would need deheading whenever possible. This involves removing the flower heads that have finished flowering to keep a neat appearance and prevent them from making other leaves and buds going mouldy ! Apply fertilizer in a liquid feed when you can to act as a pick-me-up for the plants that are feeling sad and off colour after the poor summer. This will help them flower away well into the autumn.
3. Replanting patio containers for the autumn can start from now on, especially if the summer plants are too straggly to recover. Large containers can be replanted by a mixture of shrubs or just a large sized ‘Garden Mum’ ( Chrysanthenum) will do the job on its own and will stay in flower until first frosts. Pansy and Viola will also be available soon that can be used for adding colour to existing containers or for new arrangements to last into winter. Next month we will be looking at the range of spring flowering bulbs that you can plant at the same time as planting up autumn/winter containers.
4. Shrubs in the garden have been enjoying the adequate supply of water this summer and have grown happily ! If any have grown too much, now is a good time to carry out a trim as they still have time to shoot again and make a small amount of growth before the year is out. Don’t prune any of the spring flowering shrubs as they will lose their flower buds that have developed on the branches during the summer.
5. Summer heathers are beginning to put on a god show at the moment and will stay in flower right into October. As well as planting in the ground , they can also be used in window boxes or any type of patio container. The only limiting factors about these summer heathers is that they are varieties of Calluna which can only be grown in acid ( peaty ) soil, so for a container you can use a special type of compost called Ericaceous Compost in which they can be planted. In tubs and window boxes they can be planted with a dwarf conifer and trailing ivy to make an attractive arrangement.
6. Trim back straggly growth and old flower heads off alpine plants to encourage strong short growth for next spring’s flowers to ‘spring’ from.
7. Herbaceous perennials at this time of year are getting very tall and will need supporting so their heavy flower heads wont collapse in wet and windy weather. Support them individually with bamboo canes or in groups with net supports. Keep an eye out for slug attacks during the last few weeks of summer and apply some slug pellets if you see holes appearing in the leaves. By keeping the slug population under control now it will help keep the numbers under control next spring.
8. In the vege garden keep on top of harvesting crops which have reached maturity and remove plant debris from the growing beds to prevent safe houses for bugs and slugs. Tidy up runners of strawberries so they don’t end up growing everywhere.
9. To add an extra splash of colour to your garden going into the dull autumn and winter months consider painting your garden furniture or garden shed with one of the coloured Ronseals or Fence Life wood preservatives. Timber furniture and fences dry out very quickly at this time of year and will definitely benefit from a preservative/treatment now and by choosing a different tint it can certainly brighten up a corner of your garden.
10. TIME OUT ! …. sit back and enjoy the last few weeks of summer ! or drop into Willowfield to see what new plants we have had coming in recently.
See you there !