They say that necessity is the mother of invention: looking at the emerging garden philosophies of using drought tolerant, low maintenance planting schemes, that certainly seems the case.
Instead of putting more of a burden on our water supply and in an effort to reduce labour costs, landscape schemes are incorporating more grasses and other drought resistant plants.
Fewer formal rows of bright annuals being planted out, and, in their place, we are seeing carefully selected wildflower mixes that climax at a time of year when they are likely to be appreciated. A perfect example of this philosophy in action is the Queen Elizabeth Park in the former Olympic park. Seed mixes are constantly being experimented with in order that they can provide interest throughout the year. Dr Nigel Dunnett of Sheffield University is the man to look out for with this.
The domestic gardener can learn a lot from these new approaches. August is traditionally the time when additional watering is needed to help sustain newly established plants and to keep hanging baskets and containers healthy. We all know the virtues of water butts but a few brave folk are imitating the initiatives taken on large landscape schemes by diverting the water from downpipes straight into borders and grass. This creates the possibility of having a semi-wetland ecosystem whereby a greatly more diverse planting scheme and the subsequent wildlife it will attract, can be sustained.
So whilst you are thinking of how to become more “green”, here are some of the jobs to do in August:
Prune Wisteria by cutting back current year’s side growth to about 150mm
Trim Lavender after it has finished flowering being careful not to cut back into the leaves if it is an older plant
Continue dead heading container plants, roses and herbaceous plants such as Geraniums, that repeat flower
Cut back rambling roses once they have finished flowering
Trim hedges before the colder weather slows down their growth
Give lawns a light trim rather than a heavy mow. Leave the collection box off as that will help keep the moisture in the lawn in drier weather
Keep ponds topped up and remove any blanket weed that might be blooming. The topping up of the pond is best done when the demand for water is not at its peak.
Water any newly established plants, especially if there are signs that the plant is stressed.
Ornamental grasses have become very popular and there is a good reason for this: many of them can cope with both wetland and drought conditions. They can also look fabulous in the dormant months, especially in the morning sunlight after a frost. You also don’t have to worry about watering them when you are away on holiday, so you can think about a different sort of watering...