August is a funny old month – in my head I am on holiday, wafting around the garden doing a bit of dead heading and cutting bucket loads of lovely flowers before lounging in the summer house to catch up on my reading. The reality of course is quite different – with everyone on holiday not only do I have a houseful to cook for (and plenty of laundry), but there are also quite a lot of very important garden jobs that are best tackled this month. The photos that I have used today are actually flowers from previous August’s – they do not relate to my list at all, but everything feels more achievable with some pretty illustrations!
My notebook tells me that my August list goes as follows:
- Trim Yew Hedges & Topiary
- Trim Lavender Hedges
- Order Spring Bulbs
- Order Hardy Annual Seeds for Autumn Sowing
- Order Sweet Pea Seeds for September Sowing
- Spring Clean the Greenhouse
- Spring Clean the Chicken House
- Sow Seeds for Late Vegetable Crops
- Summer Prune the Espaliered Apple & Pear Trees
- Harvest Fruit Crops for Jams, Jellies & Cordials
Thankfully a number of these jobs can be delegated! I have a lovely gardener who takes care of all the hedge trimming for me, so the yew hedges and lavender will go straight onto his list. I have already half finished the greenhouse and pressure washing the frame is a nice job to be doing in our current humid weather, so I hope to finish it this weekend. My gardener usually turns out the Chicken House for me and I am always glad when it has had a good wash and been treated for red mites. Sadly I only have 4 Buff Orpingtons left this year (I have lost two to old age in the last couple of months). August is not a good month for Buffs – like all chickens they go into a moult at this time of year but somehow the Buffs just look particularly shabby. They will be showing off their fresh feathers in September though, so it is nice to get their home spruced up as well.
Ordering seed and bulbs is firmly on my list. I am currently sifting through catalogues and websites and trying to narrow down my choices. This year I am aiming to build up the number of narcissi and iris bulbs along the drive and in the front beds – these bulbs seem to survive the wildlife in this area the best. I will also be topping up tulip bulbs in my main beds around the house, as well as filling containers with layers of tulips, hyacinths and crocus or iris. In the Cutting Garden I will be planting more of my favourite tulips for the house.
Similarly with seeds I am currently making decisions about which hardy annuals to sow in the autumn and grow on in my greenhouse and cold frames through the winter and also which sweet peas I would like to sow in September for my greenhouse crop next spring.
The vegetable garden is very productive at the moment – almost overwhelming with plenty of courgettes, beans, salads and masses of currants to be turned into jams, jellies and cordials. I like to sow a few rows of pak choi, spinach and turnips in August to give me some fresh vegetables to look forward to later in September and through October. I will also be sowing chard and kale for winter crops this month and will probably put in my order for autumn planting onions and garlic (although this can wait until September).
Finally August is the month when I summer prune my espaliered fruit trees. Summer pruning restricts the growth of fruit trees, which is particularly important for espaliers. It also allows light to reach the developing fruit and gives me a chance to thin the crop in the hopes of having bigger apples and pears in September and October. I have 36 espalier trees to prune, so this is a time consuming job – I made a start earlier this evening pruning the first 3 in the row!
I have skimmed over my bulb planting and seed sowing plans tonight, with the intention of writing more detailed posts once I have finalised my orders. I am still enjoying my hydrangeas from earlier this week and am looking forward to putting together another vase on Monday. Next week I will also be posting about my greenhouse on Wednesday and my visit to Kew and Petersham Nurseries on Friday.
In the meantime I wish you all a very happy weekend!