Written by Alison Levey – award winning Garden blogger
August is nature’s way of telling us that the days of Summer are getting in short supply. For some the idea of going on holiday in August is always problematic when the garden needs attention, though for many this year that would be a problem they would like to have. I stand in the garden and see the effusion of colour and blousiness that surrounds me.
There was a time when being blousy was not a good thing, yet I welcome it in the garden. A good blousy bloom, showing off in frilly abundance is surely the mainstay of a cottage garden? From extravagant roses to clematis winding their way up and through the garden. An un-blousy cottage garden is what I would call just a garden.
This is also the time in the season I like to call the ‘daisy season’. When I say daisy I mean all the open daisy like flowers that power our gardens into late summer colour such as the rudbeckia and single flowered dahlias. The Shasta Daisies are such great plants, very hardy and they give good ‘medium’ height in the border. I have them repeated through my borders as they are also easy to divide. Another mainstay of a cottage garden in my view is the ability to make more plants for free so that you getting more sustainable with every year. Hollyhocks are also good ‘doers’; they provide wonderful height and bees love them. I grow some perennial hollyhocks that do not seem to suffer too much from rust. Even if they do the planting around them hides the majority of it. They return year on year and self-seed gently.
Ah dahlias, such prima donnas yet worth the effort. I have been through the stages of lifting them and trying to keep them alive over the Winter. I now refuse to lift them, they live or die. I have one that returns year on year without fail but it is an exception not the rule. Others I will grow in pots that I can place in the borders to fill gaps and then put in the greenhouse to dry out and overwinter. This minimal effort approach seems to work for me. I get the joy of dahlias without so much angst.
August is also the start of fruitfulness in my garden. The aged Bramley Tree is always prolific in its harvest and every year I stand beneath it and whisper the magic charm ‘crumble and custard’ three times and lo – it appears! I am lucky I have a quince or two to pop into the crumble as well, it lifts the flavour and aroma beyond compare.
The hedges though are probably in need of a trim. The young birds should have fledged by August though it is always worth checking just before you get to work. A nice sharply cut hedge is a wonderful thing to behold. My neighbours have a Leylandii hedge that divides our two houses at the front. They keep the height reasonable for which I am grateful and there are robins that nest in it every year. My side is in desperate need of cutting but I need to be certain they have finished for this year. The other boundary between myself and my neighbour now boasts a newly replaced fence. It is a little taller than the original and it is shouting ‘clematis’ at me. So I have bought a couple and I am waiting for the wires to arrive so I can plant them.
It is a good time to sit in the garden, drink tea/Pimms/lemonade and just enjoy the moment. It can be too warm for a lot of work in the garden and most of the weeds are (hopefully) hidden and crowded out by the plants around them, so this is a good time to pause and reflect, to sit and to sip.
Enjoy your gardens and stay safe.