Gardening is all about looking ahead. This is very easy in January when it is cold and dark and all I can think about is starting off my seeds for a bountiful summer. It is harder to look ahead in August, when the days are long, the garden is full and all I want to do is hold onto the moment.
Look ahead I must, however, to ensure that autumn, winter and next spring are as beautiful as possible. Like January, August is a month of planning. Do I have the flower and vegetable seeds I need to start off in September? Which bulbs am I going to order this month to plant throughout autumn? Have my winter staples survived the hot and often dry summer?
It is in August that I start to think about my beautiful hellebores again. Helleborous niger should be in flower in December and the many varieties of orientalis will follow shortly after Christmas.
My hellebores provide the mainstay of my post Christmas flower arrangements, either floating in a bowl of water as above, displayed in individual small vases or added to a posy with plenty of foliage and perhaps a few snowdrops.
I like to seek out the plants in August to check that they are growing well and I hope to find strong and healthy leaf growth. After the flowering season I will have left the flower heads to develop seed pods and often in August I will find baby hellebores hidden under the leaves, which I can pot up and grow on for future years.
Having located my hellebores I prune away any plants growing around them to let in light and air and pull off any brown, dead material from the winter flowers.
I will then give each plant a handful of fish, blood and bone and a good watering if the soil around them is very dry.
I find that a bit of attention in August ensures lots of flowers in the winter and, hence, lots of material to play with when the dark cold days give me more time for creating arrangements and taking photographs.