August has always been one of my least favorite months in the garden; but this year perhaps August will rate high for me. We had a late long cool spring, which resulted in later bloom time for everything; even my Butterfly bush is only just now beginning to bloom. We have such a short blooming and growing season here in New England that any extra time to have a good-looking border is much appreciated. Of course there are always a few gaps to fill in with annuals or some later blooming perennials; this is quite natural as a garden is always a project in progress.
Plantings that looked good last year, may be oversized, and overpowering a display of smaller plants; so in early September get in there and transplant some out so that every plant can have its own space and perform to its optimum level.
Keep up with your deadheading; the garden should always look fresh and perky. Also make sure that your borders get at least one inch of water a week. Soaker hoses in the borders are a much more efficient method of watering as the water goes straight to the roots and you do not lose 40% of the moisture in evaporation. Also by using this method you keep water off the foliage, which can cause disease and mildew.
Cut back the tired looking annuals and you will see a new flush of bloom shortly. If you need more as fill ins, make a trip to the garden center as they are offering excellent late season bargains now. When the Coreopsis and Spirea has finished blooming, shear off the dead bloom and a new flush will appear; you can do this a few times in a season and enjoy the reward of longer bloom.
ROSES – stop feeding roses in now; roses require at least nine weeks before the first frost without further growth in order to go into a slow dormancy before winter. Always give your containers a little extra composted manure every couple of weeks when watering. You can add the manure on top of the mulch; both natural products help retain moisture and keeps down the weeds. If you do not have time to water the containers before you go out in the morning, empty your ice trays into the containers this provides slow release watering through the day until you can add more later in the day.
Powdery mildew and watering – A thorough watering in the morning is always the best method as nighttime watering can encourage powdery mildew especially on Summer phlox, Monarda and Hydrangeas. If you see this problem spray with my remedy of one gallon of water in a spray container adding two teaspoons of baking soda and the same amount of vegetable oil. Always spray in the morning before the temperature and humidity, the numbers added together go above 160.
Keep adding more composted manure to vegetables each month supplemented if you like with some fish emulsion or bone meal or blood meal. Place an old sneaker or a piece of carpet that your dog had lain on for a while – these odors will help to prevent animals from munching on the vegetables.
Place your orders for Peonies now so they can be delivered in time for September planting. Only transplant existing Peonies or divide them in September. In November after the first hard frost cut Peonies down to six inches from the ground and add a little natural brown mulch around them to protect the pink-eyed roots, which are close to the soil surface.
Begin compiling your list of spring bulbs to send in early so that you can the best choice of varieties. I’ll see you in your garden next month. Enjoy, hydrated and stretch. Listen in to my gardening show on WRCH 100.5 FM on Thursday September 21st between 8.00 and 8.30 am. If you cannot get through with your gardening questions or lecture requests, feel free to email me Maureen@TheEngishLady,com and I’ll see you in your garden next month. Enjoy.