So August is definitely about making the time to enjoy your garden. On those lovely Indian summer days that we are often lucky to get, make the most of sitting outside. With the shortening evenings, you might find that now is a good time to review your garden lighting and perhaps even pick up a bargain in the end of season sales. (Get that fire pit you’ve been thinking about, ready for autumn marshmallow toasting?)
Of course, if you do find you have a gap in your borders where something has already finished, garden centres like us will still have plants in stock to provide colour now and into the autumn. Plants like Rudbeckia, Aster and Echinacea will provide colour until the first frosts, as well as much appreciated food for our insects. Ask our expert staff what will suit your particular soil and situation if in any doubt.
While you are enjoying your garden, now is a really good time to plan ahead, either practically or just in your mind. First, on a fine day, and before you have cut back too much, take some photos of your garden. They are a huge help to refer back to when planning your winter maintenance jobs and to remind you if there were any gaps in your planting before next year comes around. Ask yourself what did well and what didn’t in a particular spot so you can either think about moving plants when they are dormant in the winter or planning ahead to buy or grow something that will do better in that space. (As the doyenne of gardening Beth Chatto famously said, the skill is about finding the right plant for the right place).
On a practical note, now is a great time to increase your stock of plants by taking cuttings. Tender perennials (like Fuchsia, Penstemon, Salvia and Pelargonium) can be propagated by taking softwood cuttings now: choose healthy but non-flowering shoots and plant them up quickly, before they loose too much moisture. Woody herbs, like rosemary, lavender and hyssop, can also be increased by taking cuttings now too. Some plants can be propagated through leaf cuttings: houseplants like African Violets or Begonias, as well as succulents like Sedum and Echeveria. If you’ve never taken leaf cuttings before, do give it a try; it is rather impressive to see baby plants growing from just a leaf! The RHS guide to leaf cuttings is here.
While we talk a lot about deadheading to keep things flowering for as long as possible, it’s also good to leave somethings to go to seed. This can provide food for wildlife over winter, seeds or berries for us to use and some structure in your autumn borders. When I’m not pottering in the garden, August is also about starting to turn the harvest into jams, chutneys and pickles for the larder and for presents… oh dear, Christmas is only just around the corner. Make the most of the August sunshine while you can!