August: home and away

Well, we wanted rain - but this is ridiculous.

Orkney (according to the BBC), received more sun than Cornwall in the past few weeks and Hampshire had a greater increase in average rainfall than any other county.

Of course, there are upsides to all of this: I no longer have to rush out every evening to water my allotment; my potted plants don't look as if they are on the brink of extinction when I go away and lawns look as if they are, well, lawns.

All this rain has extended the growing and flowering period of many plants which by now would have been well past their best. The tall Golden Oats grass (Stipa gigantea) seem to have done particularly well and the moisture loving plants such as the perennial Lobelia and Monarda are lapping it up. By this time of year there is usually a faded crispness to trees and shrubs, so a celebration of the wet spells is quite in order. 

There are a host of great gardens open at this time of year and I never cease to get inspiration and heaps of ideas just from looking at all the shapes and forms of the varied plant life.

It won't be long before the evening air cools down quickly and there will be a crispness in the air.

So, if you are not going away on holiday, step outside into your patch and enjoy what is all around you. The following are gentle tasks to focus on and take you away from your laptop:

  • Evergreen hedges can have their final trim.
  • Trim young Lavenders being careful to only cut 25mm (1") into the new growth.
  • Dead-head the faded blooms of your pots and hanging baskets. A liquid feed will give them a boost too.
  • Roses too can be deadheaded once they have finished flowering.
  • Rambling roses can be pruned now but don't be too ambitious: get a tree surgeon in if you have a monster.
  • Adjust the height of your lawn mower according to how vigorous the growth is. Be careful not to mow too hard.
  • Any patches of bare soil can either be left for the birds to enjoy a "dust bath" or can be a place to sow the seeds you have collected from your favourite plants, including wild flowers.
  • If a dry spell does come along, you may need to top up your pond.

Plants from all over the world will have been collected, curated and nurtured so we can enjoy them in our gardens. Every plant species will have a story, will have a country of origin and will have their place in the local ecosystem. Some will be indigenous species, others from distant continents.

So out you go and give them some TLC. Someone probably risked their neck to get one of those species transported back to this country.

And it wouldn't have been a holiday for them either!