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August Garden Tips

Garden work for August 2018

Flower garden

It is a good time to plant Madonna lilies now, with not more than 2” of soil above each bulb. It is also time to order lilies for autumn delivery. Tiger lilies and some hybrids produce bulbils between the leaves and the stem. Gather the bulbils when they fall at a touch and plant them in a deep seed box, about 2” apart.

Keep shrubs tidy by dead heading. Especially roses, but do not apply rose fertiliser after the end of July, this avoids late soft growth which will not mature before winter. Cut gladioli for indoor use when the first floret has opened. For exhibition plants the timing of cutting is dependent on the variety. The idea is to have as many florets open as possible. Remember to leave 4 –5 leaves when cutting a spike.

Remember to keep cutting sweet pea blooms. Never allow the blooms to fade or droop otherwise the flowering period will be shortened.

Shrubs like deutzia, philadelphus and weigela – or any that have been flowering through June, July and early August, should be pruned now, or as soon as they have finished flowering. Shorten any exceptionally long shoots above the bud, then remove about one-third of the oldest stems. Now is the time to prune Rambler roses, when they have stopped flowering. Prune all stems that have flowered to ground level, train and tie in new shoots

Vegetables

Early in the month sow spring cabbage. Recommended varieties include ‘Early Market’, ‘Harbinger’, ‘Flower of Spring’ and ‘Wheeler’s Imperial’.

Provided you have a place where the seed can germinate at temperatures below 20 C sow some lettuce for cutting in the winter. Try ‘Winter Density’ or ‘Artic King’.

Keep a careful watch for potato blight. Cut off affected haulm and destroy it, don’t compost it.

August is the month to get hedges into order. One of my wiser and older gardening friends was saying that either he was shrinking or the hedges were getting taller, and it is probably true that the latter effect was happening – although we do seem to shrink with age as well. So it is always best to cut a little bit deeper, perhaps an inch or so (25 mm) to stop the established hedges from growing that extra little bit each year. If you have a tall hedge, do make sure that you have a stable platform to cut the top and use protective headgear and goggles particularly when using powered hedge trimmers. Collect all the trimmings and compost them if you can. If not, bag them up and take them for recycling.

Planting up strawberry runners in the later part of August will help provide a good crop next year. If you are buying plants in, make sure that they are certified virus-free stock, as strawberries are very prone to virus disease.

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