Where does time go? I can’t believe I’ve been writing my monthly garden posts for a whole year now, and it’s time to think about August in my garden again already. But this year will be very different to last year due to the heatwave we’ve been enjoying (or not, as the case may be…)
What’s flowering now?
As you may have noticed from the cover picture, our sunflowers are quite literally celebrating in all the sunshine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them grow so tall or so floriferously (yes, that is a word, I checked). We’re growing three varieties this year: Russian Giant from our Mud and Bloom box, Vanilla Ice from Aldi, and one that Flora brought home from Cubs in June that I have no idea about – but it’s the tallest of the lot.
She’s on her fourth year now and gets better every summer. As do my Blue Bayou dahlias, which the bees adore:
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t lift my dahlias for Winter, I just cut back before the first frosts, feed with chicken manure pellets, and mulch heavily. So far so good but it’s not the end of the world if I eventually lose a plant, I can always buy more 🙂
Other favourite flowers, sown from seed earlier this year, are my Cosmos Purity (white) and my Cosmos Rubenza (deep pink). They make fabulous cutting flowers, all that feathery green foliage means you need very little else in a vase.
And I love the delicate but vibrant flowers on our Coreopsis, they look so pretty when put together with Cornflowers and Sweet Peas. Don’t be fooled though, this is a tough plant, it’s even been found growing next to Chernobyl’s nuclear reactor.
The less said about my Gladioli the better as they seem to have mysteriously and irritatingly turned from purple and white to a salmon orange, which I do not like at all. It doesn’t fit my garden aesthetic (oooh, get me, haha) and I’ll be digging them up after they’ve finished flowering this year.
Other flowers that are blooming happily include both our white and purple Buddleias, the night-scented white Hesperis matronalis by the pond, a bright pink Salvia, and my favourite Hydrangea by the front door.
Earlier this year, I said I was going to have a go at growing edible flowers for our salads and desserts, as well as the self-seeded borage that I freeze in ice cubes. Well, here they are, doing very nicely among the tomatoes in the greenhouse. So far we have calendula, cornflower, nasturtium, violas and some more that I can’t identify as yet, having lost the seed box…
What’s fruiting now?
I’ve been harvesting between four and five cucumbers a week from our three plants and, even though I say so myself, they are delicious. Sweet, crunchy, and tasty, and totally unlike the plastic-wrapped supermarket fare. And last night I collected my first small harvest of tomatoes too. The huge one in the middle was grown from our February Mud and Bloom box, which is a surprise as they were supposed to be cherry tomatoes… The smaller multi-coloured ones are sown from my favourite Thompson & Morgan’s Rainbow Blend seeds, also planted back in February.
I always prune off the bottom leaves of each tomato plant to let light and air get at little green fruits. As more tomatoes ripen, you can prune off more leaves higher up the plant until you’re left with a stem and branches with fruit but no leaves. Yes, it looks odd, but more of the green will turn red (or yellow, pink and orange in my case).
Later this month I’m hoping to harvest our first beetroot, radishes and lettuce as well, providing the slugs and caterpillars don’t find them first.
Our apple tree is a very early fruiter, we’ll be harvesting some lovely eating apples within the next few weeks if this sunshine keeps going. Sadly, we’ve never been able to identify what type it is, so if anyone can shed any light, I’d be incredibly grateful. When ripe, they’re similar to Pink Lady with a slight fizz and taste gorgeous.
I think the strong winds may have done for our kiwi by knocking off most of the blossom but our pear tree has a good crop coming along, and I’m very excited to have spotted a couple of baby figs.
Last month I mentioned that our peach tree has fruit for the first time in three years, and I’m keeping everything crossed that enough of them ripen for me to make some yummy jam in September.
Jobs for August
My harvesting, watering and daily flower deadheading to encourage fresh blooms continue. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my salutary tale of falling off the ladder while deadheading and pruning my roses. Tip: wait for someone to hold the ladder first.
I have enough geraniums, lavender and herbs already, but this month is a good time to take cuttings for propagating more young plants. And collecting free seeds from favourite spent blooms such as poppies, sweet peas, honesty, aquilegias.
Another favourite job is sitting outside in the evenings with some plant catalogues (Gee Tee Bulb Co, Sarah Raven, Parkers, Crocus, to name a few favourites) a large glass of Mateus Rose and a pen. Planning my Autumn bulbs haul for next year’s Spring and early Summer flower displays is a very pleasant way to pass an evening.
I feel like I’m repeating myself every month at the moment but with all this dry weather it’s really important to keep topping up your ponds and bird baths. And to leave a shallow dish of water out for smaller creatures too, such as hedgehogs or mice.
We had a lovely new fence installed at the bottom of our orchard at the end of July – more space for me to plant shrubs, bulbs, and grow climbers up, yay! In case you’re wondering why there’s a hole cut in the bottom, it’s for hedgehogs. We’re very lucky to have the occasional hedgehog visitor to our garden and, as they can travel up to a mile a night in search of food, we want to make sure they have easy access in and out of our garden. Spooky can use it too (Ginger is too fat and Jester is too old) and our little black cat seems thrilled with his own personal doorway.
My apologies for what has turned into a very photo-heavy post but there’s so much going on that I want to share – I’ll save the rest of my pictures for Instagram though! August is the month that I can really appreciate all the hard work of the earlier months. Being able to harvest our own produce and cut my own flowers is what makes everything worthwhile. Now all I need to do is put that bottle in the fridge…