High summer in your garden
By Sarah Wilson
Many thanks to everyone who helped or visited our garden this summer – over the summer we have made £1800 for the NGS and £825 for the Childrens Trust. The NGS supports a number of charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Parkinson’s UK and the MS Society. I think that visitors enjoyed the garden and the tea and cakes – on the last visit three lovely ladies came up to me and said ” We love your garden – its so artistically chaotic! ”
I’ve kept my rainfall record going over the summer and after the very dry April there have been between 100 and 110 mm rain each month – with seasonal temperatures causing about 25 mm evaporation a week that means that the ground has been kept nice and moist with no watering required. In August so far there have already been 85mm of rain so August looks like being a very wet month and this is a good thing for your lawn and setting the spring buds on the Camellia, Rhododendron and Magnolia. We are getting daytime temperatures of 30 degrees and nights as cold as 7 degrees.
The best plants in the garden in August are “daisies” – in all colours and shapes they are mostly plants from North and South America and therefore are late summer flowering. One plant you might not have considered is Erigeron Karvinskianus, it is a long- lived, easy to grow perennial which forms low mounds of trailing pink and white daisies and will look lovely growing over a rockery or raised bed.
My absolute favourite plant for late summer is the big golden daisy – Rudbeckia fulgida (also known as the ‘coneflower’) This is a very tall flower and works best in large swathes with other tall plants such as Verbena bonariensis and perennial grasses. If you don’t have a suitable border you could try two much smaller, but just as colourful, cultivars – Rudbeckia var sullivanti ‘Little Goldstar’ and Verbena rigida.
Everywhere in Kingswood there are clumps of Japanese anemones (Anemone hybrida). The flowers are pale lilac, white, and darker pink with double forms such as ‘Bressingham Glow’. These are easy to grow, although the pale lilac single variety can be quite invasive. Try to have a clump of this in your garden to bring not only late summer colour but also attractive seed-heads over the autumn.
I get lots of questions about Hydrangea from visitors to Shieling – in response to some common gardening myths here are some interesting facts:
- You can grow all colours of Hydrangea in a garden with acid to neutral soil – everything from purple to blue.
- Hydrangea are easy to grow from cuttings – this month you can cut a stem, remove all but the top leaves and just put it in a pot of well-drained compost – it will be a small plant by next summer
- Hydrangea do not need a lot of watering in the summer – they are woodland plants and can grow well in quite dry shady places.
- Hydrangea are so called because the fertilized floret in the Lace Cap varieties look like a water pitcher – the Greek word for water is ‘hydra’.
- Lace Caps will have a colour change and the outside florets will droop downwards after the inside disc florets have been fertilized. This shows pollinators that the flower is already pollinated and is not a sign of lack of water.
- Hydrangea of all types benefit from quite drastic pruning – just check how to prune each different type
There are some important things to do in August in your garden:
- Collect seeds from annuals such as Cosmos, Nigella, sweet peas and opium poppies. This year I have grown a wonderful scented sweet pea called ‘Fragrantissima’ that I got as a free packet of seeds in a magazine! Try them next year for lovely rich colours and wonderful scent.
- If you have Agapanthus wait until the seed ripens and put some in a pot of gravelly soil – they are very easy to germinate and grow a new plant.
- Look out for self-sown seedlings of perennials and biennials – it’s a good time to dig up and move small plants of Alchemilla mollis, foxgloves, Phlomis and Erigeron annus.
- Carry on deadheading roses and other plants such as Helenium, Marjoram and Calendula.
- Start to prune your Wisteria – leaving a couple of buds from the woody stem.
- Decide what new bulbs you need for next spring and order and plant over the next few months.
Dr Sarah Wilson, a long time resident in The Warren, regularly opens her garden in the summer months with the National Garden Scheme.
To contact Sarah please click here