Rushlake Green Village Leaf

Gardening Diary August 2011

" If the 24th of August be fair and clear, then hope for a prosperous autumn that year."

The brilliant tints of summer tend to give way this month to the richer, though perhaps softer, golds and bronzes of autumn. Nevertheless, vivid splashes are created by phloxes and gladioli as well as hollyhocks. Where the practice of removing spent flowers before seed pods have a chance to form, summer flowering subjects can be induced to keep blooming for a greatly extended period. If, as so often happens, holidays cut into the month it is indeed sound practice to go over bedding plants and remove all flowers and buds which are just opening to ensure that they will not spend themselves in seed production before our return. The temporary relief thus afforded the plants will be reflected in a gay later display.

Do not relax warfare against insect pests and diseases. Fungoid diseases can be troublesome at this season and as soon as noted due measures should be taken. Watch especially roses for black spot, rust and mildew. Although these diseases are too far advanced when they are plainly visible to be cured by application of sprays, they may be handicapped in their progress by prompt treatment now. If the fungus is prevented from maturing spores now, this will reduce the risk of more serious attacks next year.

In the vegetable patch keep up the feeding of runner and French beans and also tomatoes, likewise Brussels sprouts and winter greens. It is well to pinch out the growing points on outdoor tomatoes as soon as three trusses of fruit have set to hasten ripening. Later formed trusses will not come to anything. During dry spells the flowers of runner beans will often wither without setting. A fine spray of water over the whole plant will help to encourage a good set of beans. As crops are harvested the ground may be filled again with sowings of lettuce and spinach or planted up with cabbages and other winter greens. The maincrop potatoes can be lifted from this month onwards.

We should now be turning our attention to hedge clipping. Some, such as the privet need trimming numerous times throughout the season, but for the majority one or twice a year is sufficient. This should be done no later than August to give the shrubs a chance to harden the new growth before the onset of frost. The large leaved evergreens, such as Laurel, should be trimmed with secateurs, not hedgecutters as these will leave ragged brown - edged leaves. Always cut your hedge narrower at the top than the bottom. When dealing with young hedges, especially those of beech, hornbeam, leylandii and thuja, it is advisable to allow them to reach the required height before taking out the tops. In the meantime just trim the ends of the branches to encourage them to thicken up. The more informal types of flowering hedges which include those of berberis, pyracantha, escallonia and rose should never be trimmed too hard or they will produce few flowers. It is best just to go over them occasionally with secateurs to remove any long or straggly growths.

And last but not least keep your hoe on the move over borders and vegetable patch.

Content kindly volunteered by Ross Atabey from Green & Great Gardens your local landscaping and garden specialists. For further advice contact Ross on 07941 315214 01435 812 153 or visit www.greenandgreatgardens.co.uk