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Gardener's Diary             August

Gardener`s Diary is a regular feature of run by Rosemary Martin, who is semi retired.  She says anyone can enjoy gardening whether they have a large or small garden, can`t tell a dandelion from a daisy, or are aged 9 or 90… Here you will be able to see what jobs you should be doing in the garden month by month, get ideas for spectacular seasonal planting schemes, read previews on new plants and products, find out where to buy them, and get up-to-date news of forthcoming events and places to visit. 

For those of you that have never dabbled in the "black art" of gardening you will first need to get some basic knowledge from a good gardening book. You will find some within this article as examples...


But first an introduction from Rosemary...

I have been gardening now for about thirty years, long enough for my husband to know that it`s wise to bury his head in a newspaper when the secateurs come out of retirement...  I don`t have a favourite style of gardening, traditional is nice but I also think the modern trends work well. Plants in my garden have to be resilient as they get moved around frequently, and my husband has been heard  to mutter  “I don`t remember that tree being there this morning..”

Hobbies have come and gone over the years but only gardening has endured, and now in retirement this column adds a new dimension to the hobby, and will hopefully help others find pleasure in this healthy and therapeutic pastime  ...  

Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife



Fourth edition  - August 2001.

This month I have looked in depth at  lawnmowers and shredders

For me August is always a relaxed sort of month in the garden, when I can take a break from the heavier jobs of the early part of the year and plan the Autumn/Winter tasks. As I write this on my computer it is July twenty something, pouring with rain and gusting 30kts, so quite difficult to think "summer."  I also have a puppy on loan, who together with Penny, the subject of another story is rampaging through my borders! I wonder why they can`t have a rough and tumble on the lawn, goodness knows there`s enough of it, but no, it has to be on the bedding plants and perennials. No matter, the plants will survive, and it`s lovely watching the pups playing. I think we will have to think about getting Penny a doggy companion when the pup has gone back home...

About this time of year I start looking at any plants that have seed pods forming, as I find immense satisfaction in growing plants for free from seed I have previously collected. Several years ago I spent 6 on one packet with only five seeds of the Castor Oil plant Ricinus Carmencita, a really unusual monster annual. Although expensive at the time, each year they`ve produced hundreds of viable seeds,  keeping the whole neighborhood going. So when funds are at a premium go on a seed hunt. Ask your friendly neighbours if you can collect theirs... Have a look in your gardening books too, for any plants that are suitable for taking stem cuttings from at this time of year. This is wood that is no longer soft and sappy but not yet very ripe. Some I have in mind are: escallonia, lavender, cistus, all varieties of sages, rosemary, buddleia, philadelphus, viburnum tinus, berberis, ceanothus, weigela, hydrangea, ribes, hebe, skimmia and deutzia.

Don`t forget that summer is not all about working in your garden,  take some time out to visit a garden show or two, especially on the 18th and 19th September, which is the RHS Great Autumn Show, Royal Horticultural Halls, Greycoat Street, Lonsdon SW1 

Or go to their website for a diary of all other events leading up to the autumn show at:-


Jobs for the month - August



As summer begins to draw to a close August becomes a month of tidying up and preparation for the winter and next spring. The rewards of earlier labours in the fruit and vegetable garden can now be had..




They will still need frequent watering and feeding. Don`t forget to regularly dead-head flowering varieties. If you have plants in a conservatory make sure they have ventilation and shade on hot sunny days.



Bulbs are starting to come into the garden centres at this time of year. If you are not planting them straight away, store them in a dry, dark place with plenty of ventilation. Use paper bags not polythene..




Frequent mowings are still the order of the day. Don`t worry about brown patches in the lawn, due to drought, as a few heavy showers will soon restore it. Have you noticed how the weeds still grow even though the grass doesn`t ?



During the month of August you still need to make sure that plants in the greenhouse have adequate ventilation and are shaded from too much sun. Maintain humidity to avoid red spider mite by damping down with the hosepipe. Shade cucumbers from hot sun



Take care when pruning a low lavender hedge as only new growth should be lightly trimmed. Any old wood you cut back won`t shoot again.


Fruit and vegetables

You may be able to start picking early apples and pears. Continue cropping salad varieties. Watch out for aphids on the runner beans, and keep them well watered in dry spells.


Flowers for cutting

Keep cutting flowers for the house and at the same time dead-head any faded blooms to encourage new growth. The lovely delicate swathes of gypsophila, or baby`s breath as it is sometimes known, is still flowering this month. It is superb in flower arrangements with carnations and lilies. Still spray against aphids.


Herbaceous plants

Carry on feeding plants. Take time to dead-head any flowers that have faded, which encourages new buds to form, and freshens the borders. Also mulch round plants with grass cuttings in dry weather, to preserve moisture. (Don`t forget to dig it in once the dry spell has passed) 


Ponds and water features

If you have aphids on lily leaves, give them a blast with the hose pipe which will knock them into the water for the fish to eat. It will also serve to oxygenate the water, and raise the level, which may have dropped due to evaporation. Continue removing blanket weed if it is a problem. Feed up the fish fry that have hatched this year, on crumbled fish pellets, and watch them grow...



Our hedgehog seems to have found another place to live as he no longer comes through our garden. Perhaps he didn`t like the scent of our puppy. Come to think of it there aren`t so many birds visiting either. However animals of all kinds are already beginning to prepare for winter so increase the variety and quantity of food on your bird table.


Next month I will be looking at basic garden tools and of course jobs for the month...



Some seasonal web sites of interest to gardeners:




  Visit the Eden Project 


The living theatre of plants and people
The Eden Project is a gateway into the world of plants and people. A meeting place for all to discover how we depend on plants and how we can help to manage and conserve them for our mutual survival

Gardening is an important part of many people's lives. You don't have to give up gardening because of accident or illness, the onset of disability or the problems associated with growing older. The information on their website is designed to provide you with the information to Carry on Gardening.

Carry on Gardening was initiated by the horticultural charity Thrive and is funded by the National Lottery Charities Board.  It brings together information on easy ways of gardening gathered over 23 years by Thrive and research carried out since the early 1970s by Mary Marlborough Centre, Oxford, on tools and equipment for disabled and older people.


Are footpaths and the countryside now open?


If you are visiting a National Trust garden or any other garden or event, do check that they are not closed due to Foot and Mouth disease. More and more footpaths and other venues are being opened but, for general advice and up-to-date details of restrictions, look up the website for the appropriate local authority who will have information about closures. Alternatively look at the following websites:   and  who will have Foot and Mouth up-dates. 


Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary




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