1) August has been another dry month here in North Yorkshire, we had a few showers and some prolonged rain on the 26th/27th., but not enough serious volumes to replenish the water table. Just that fresh feeling in the mornings now, but overnight temperatures are still staying above 10 degrees.
2) Summer Branch Drop (SBD) has been apparent on several trees in the area, no-one appears to have identified the cause, but it does seem to occur after rain following a very dry spell.
3) If you have heavy soil, dig over the garden borders as bedding plants need to be removed. This will make digging easier as the soil will not be at full water capacity as in later months.
4) Now is the time to make yourself a good, big compost bin, just before you really need it! Ideally, use four stakes as corners, one metre apart in a square, and staple wire netting (one metre deep) around the square. This allows easy entry when you wish to empty it, or it can be made bigger or smaller at will. If you would like a permanent one, use pressure treated plywood or boards instead of netting.
5) On a fine evening, have a walk around the garden and make a note of what has done really well, and also not so well, so that when time comes to replant the borders you will have a good idea of what will be successful! Why not have a visit to Harlow Carr Gardens or one of the other splendid gardens in the area, and make a note of which plants you are really motivated by?
6) Towards the end of the month and into October is the best time to move evergreens as the soil is still warm and new roots will take hold before winter. Make sure the planting hole is big enough so the plant is at the same depth as before, firm soil back around the root-ball and water in well.
7) Take hardwood cuttings from your favourite roses. Ideal cuttings are about pencil thickness and 30cm long, remove the top 8cm of young growth down to just above a bud. Cut the bottom of the stem at about 2-3mm below a bud and trim off all the leaves, with the exception of the top three sets of leaves.
Make a slot with a spade in an area of good soil and push in the cuttings (base first!) so that about one third remains above ground. If the soil is heavy, run some sharp sand down the planting slot to improve drainage. The cuttings should be ready to plant out next autumn.
8) Keep dead-heading the best flowering plants to encourage new flowers and stop them setting seed.
9) Newly planted perennials will do well when planted over the next 6 weeks. Give the roots of new plants a good soaking before planting, firm in well to the original depth and place a good mulch around the plant to prevent moisture loss and winter damage to young roots.
10) Continue to trim fast-growing hedges, and don’t forget the weeds in the hedge bottoms!
11) Now is the time to sort out your bulb order to give you maximum choice. Bulb catalogues are really helpful and a pleasure to look at. Planting early has benefits for all bulbs, but leave tulips until late November in order to prevent disease infection.
12) Complete the lifting of last seasons’ bulbs and dry them off naturally in light woven sacks for maximum ventilation.
13) Crocosmias form large mounds of roots and corms after a few years, try separating them with a fork, pulling them apart, or removing the soil and untangling them with the help of a hosepipe jet.
14) This month and next month the lawn can be mown less frequently, but will really benefit from echanical scarifying or the regular use of a spring tine rake to remove the old ‘thatch’. Aerating by means of a machine or a garden fork will work wonders, in conjunction with a specific lawn weed killer and an autumn lawn fertilize dressing.