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Last Month in My Garden, August 2018

At the beginning of August, it was noticeable that the days were shorter than at Midsummer: sunrise was later and sunset earlier. The sun, rising over my ash trees, no longer woke me at 5 am. By the end of the month, sunrise had moved towards the south. I enjoy early summer mornings and dread the slow approach of winter. However, July had been so hot that I could not work in the middle of the day and I resolved to make good use of August. I do not go away in school holidays and have fewer engagements so it is a vital month for gardening. Of course, I have not done as much as I intended! but the days have been cooler and there has been some much-needed rain so I have had less watering to do.

Sunrise 24.8.2018 6.29 am

6.36 am

Campsis grandiflora, which I mentioned as a key plant in July, continued to provide colour throughout August, as did the old cultivar Clematis ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’, although the flowers were much smaller than usual. Several clematis had been magnificent in July; ‘Alba Luxurians’ continued until the middle of August.

Clematis ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’

Clematis ‘Alba Luxurians’

I grow several coloured-stemmed cornus. Cornus sanguinea ’Anny’s Winter Orange’ and ‘Midwinter Fire’, C. alba ‘Kesselringii’ (black) and Baton Rouge (red) and C. sericea ‘Flaviramea’ (lime green) have all survived the drought well. However, by the middle of the month, C. alba ‘Elegantissima’ was looking limp, with many dead leaves. It does grow in a sunnier position than the others but stood out because it is a large planting. Other noticeable survivors have been forms of Symphyotrichum leave, such as ‘Les Moutiers’. They have not grown as tall as usual but their foliage has remained a good dark green and plenty of flower-buds have formed. Symphyotrichum novae-angliae have fared surprisingly well and some started to flower in the second half of the month – a little earlier than usual. At the HPS Western Counties meeting, Brian Ellis mentioned that sanguisorbas will survive a dry summer if they have plenty of moisture in spring. Perhaps it is the same for symphyotrichum. (However, my sanguisorbas browned in July before I noticed and watered them; I lost the flowers.) The photos show that bees have been seeking out the few flowers that have survived and they do not have to be British natives.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘St. Michael's’

Dahlia ‘Fashion Monger’

The shade beds have been looking less than their best. Some of the pulmonarias have disappeared, although others have displayed good foliage. Fuchsias have put on little growth and stopped flowering. Interest and colour have come in small packages, such as the Cyclamen hederifolium which started to appear at the beginning of the month. Paeonia mlokosewitschii opened startling seed-pods; unfortunately, dark blue seeds only are viable and mine were all red. They shrivelled.

Pulmonaria  ‘Julian’s Findling’
from Elworthy Cottage

Cyclamen hederifolium

Paeonia mlokosewitschii

In the second week of the month, a flock of geese flew noisily over the garden. I associate them with the onset of winter so it was a disturbing sight. It happened several more times over the next few days but why they were migrating I do not know. They flew from NE to SW but one flock travelled in the opposite direction! In the last week of the month, red haws became noticeable and damsons were ripe. I had been picking blackberries since July and they were finished by the end of the month. Summer was clearly ending but, after good amounts of rain, pulmonarias and astrantias began to sprout new leaves and some hostas produced late flowers. My stunted dahlias grew taller and there was hope that they might, eventually, flower. Will it be a long mild autumn or will winter be severe? I hope it is not the latter.

Margaret Stone

Brockamin is open for NGS on September 23rd, 2 pm to 5 pm.

Posted by Margaret Stone

Vist Margaret's garden on one of the NGS open days.

7 Comments To "Last Month in My Garden, August 2018"

Mary Simpson On 24.11.2018
This summer my grandson wanted to know " What's that plant with dragon's teeth in the garden? " Turned out it was the red, infertile seeds of a peony mascula, but now re-named the Dragon Plant ! Much better name . . . . Reply to this comment
Sharon On 19.09.2018
Hi I have just joined the society and on my first visit I noticed the picture of the Peony seed heads and the caption that the red seeds are not viable. I was just about to sow them and I had looked them up and seen it would take 2 frosts before germination. You may have already save me from disappointment. I would love to know more about why some seeds are different colours. Reply to this comment
Marian Goody On 20.09.2018
Hello Sharon, Welcome to the society. The HPS booklet on Peonies by Gail Harland is very helpful on all aspects of peonies. It sounds as though you want to have a go with Peony seed, you can order some from the seed distribution scheme in late November. All donations of seed are welcomed by the scheme until 31st October, see the website for details
Margaret Stone On 08.09.2018
I suggest Phillipa and Dawn send their queries to the Peony Group; I am not a peony expert! However, I am pleased that my P. mlokosewitschii (a division from Julian Sutton) flowered soon after planting. Reply to this comment
Dawn Mason On 05.09.2018
Looking at your seed head for the 'Molly the Witch' I have a query. I bought a Molly the Witch thirty years ago and it had never flowered until this year when I was so excited to see buds on it in early Spring. However, when it bloomed it was pink. This autumn it has produced beautiful seed heads as in your picture. What is it, do you think? This year the peonies have produced wonderful seed heads. Reply to this comment
Phillipa Holloway On 04.09.2018
Margaret Good morning! Do I need to chit paeony seeds - the big black shiny ones - before potting please? Phillipa Reply to this comment
Brian Skeys On 03.09.2018
I hope the Indian Summer continues for your opening Margaret Reply to this comment
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