River Wissey Lovell Fuller

August Gardening

September 2014

In August the most important gardening task is to enjoy your garden, all of your hard work throughout the year will now result in a glorious riot of colour, scent and abundance of crops. What could be more satisfying! Watering is essential in August, and as its holiday-time you might need to enlist the help of friends and family to look after your garden whilst you are away. Alternatively, you might want to set up an automatic watering system. A drip kit can be attached to an outside tap with a timer, and individual spikes are pushed into every pot and basket. If you do not have an outside tap capillary matting placed in a bowl or sink full of water can be an affective watering method. Also group pots together in a shady, cool area to reduce water evaporation. Birds also need fresh water for bathing and drinking, especially during hot, dry spells so keep supplies plentiful and regularly changed. One group of plants that rarely need watering, or much care, are ornamental grasses. Ornamental grasses are a very diverse group of plants; they can be used to fill gaps in borders, as container plants or specimens, or as ground cover. Their subtle beauty and adaptability make them perfect companions to other flowering plants. One style of planting using grasses is to create a Prairie or meadow-style garden. These types of gardens have become hugely popular over recent years as they produce a really natural planting effect. Prairie gardens do well on poor soil, like our sand, and are a perfect way to plant up difficult areas. One of my favourite Prairie style gardens is the Millennium garden at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, created by Piet Oudolf. It’s a style that so inspired me I’ve replicated the effect in our own garden, to a much smaller scale! Millennium Garden photo by Paul Hannington 28th August 2013.

The effect is easy to create using bold drifts of grasses including Miscanthus, Deschampsia, Stipa and Calamagrostis and perennials including Echinacea, Helenium, Crocosmia, Achillea, Asters, Sedum, and Rudbeckia. All of which are at their prime during August and September. Ironically, successful prairie planting demands careful planning to create something that looks natural. Plant spacing is very important to prevent your garden from becoming an ‘overgrown jungle’. Rather than randomly dotting plants about, plant masses of the same plant in curved drifts and repeat sections of the planting throughout the border. In prairie border contrasts of height, texture and form are more important than colour. Drought tolerant grasses and perennials tend to be deep-rooted, with this in mind the soil will require some preparation on planting. Simply dig a hole twice as deep as needed and backfill with decent garden compost. However, once established the only care that is required is a harsh prune, almost to the ground, in early spring. August is Wisteria care month. Summer prune wisteria by shortening the wispy side shoots to about 20cm or 5 sets of leaves. If your wisteria lacked flowers this spring, soak the soil with high potash fertiliser, such as tomato feed. It’s also time to trim back lavender and rosemary, after flowering, without cutting into the old wood. Whatever August brings, I hope you are able to enjoy some time relaxing in your garden, or visiting others for inspiration. Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk

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