Welcome to our August Newsletter

August is traditionally the month for summer holidays, but with many of us staying at home this year our gardens have become more important than ever, often used as an extra ‘outdoor room’ for relaxing, entertaining , meeting with friends and family for summer parties and barbecues, and generally enjoying the lazy life of late summer.

Dreaming of the Mediterranean?   With the bees and insects buzzing, a glass of something cold and refreshing in hand, and a well-placed tub or container full of aromatic herbs such as Lavender, Origanum, Thyme and Coriander to add their flavours to the barbecue, we can imagine the scents of the Mediterranean are wafting in  on the summer breeze……A pot-grown Citrus tree of orange or lemon will add to the Mediterranean effect and will  enjoy being outdoors all summer long.

August is also the time when all the previous hard work pays off, with lots of homegrown vegetables ready to harvest. This year, gardens have looked particularly good, perhaps due to the extra time that has been available to many of us to spend on gardening.  The weather too, has helped, with dry weather followed by rain just when it was needed.

Plants get thirsty too 

If the weather does turn hot and sunny remember watering is very important. Give a thorough water to the roots. A very light sprinkling, or watering only onto the leaves will just encourage surface rooting rather than the development of a strong root system.  Thorough watering and perhaps a liquid feed, especially for the roses, and then a mulch round the base of the plant to seal in moisture, will help keep plants strong and healthy. Growing plants such as Nepeta, (i.e. Catnip, which your cats will love) Salvias and Lavender alongside your roses has been found to help prevent the spread of disease, an added bonus from these gorgeous summer flowering beauties.

Keeping it colourful

If the flower borders need a boost of colour then good summer plants include Hydrangeas, with many different hues available now. Or the more upright Hydrangea paniculata such as the variety ‘Pinky Winky’ whose stunning flowerheads fade from a beautiful creamy white in early summer to red in September. Then there are the hardy Fuchsias, Phlox and Penstemons also grown in many shades. Silver-leaved summer plants include Perovskia, one of the members of the mint family, Lavender and Santolina with its silvered, often aromatic leaves, all of which thrive in a sunny position. For stunning yellows, go for Rudbeckia and Helenium with their pretty daisy-shaped flowers that last right into October and sometimes even early November. All of these plants go well with the many types of grasses and foliage available in August, such as the stunning, steely blue Festuca Glauca.

Plants get peckish too

August is the time to feed Camellias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas with an Ericaceous feed as they are now producing dormant buds in preparation for flowering next Spring, and they will need regular watering too. Sadly, a lack of water at the roots now, will cause the flower buds to drop off next Spring without opening.

Our customers often ask about Buxus blight and caterpillar damage. The solution to both these troubles is regular feeding to help the plant recover, or you can use Westland’s ‘Concentrated Buxus feed and protectant’ which is the equivalent of chicken soup for a sickly Buxus. There is also the Box tree moth – trapping these pesky little blighters is the best way to minimise the problem, or alternatively whole hedges have been replaced with other plants such as Ilex Crenata, or the shiny green-leaved Euonymus Japonicus.  For a natural looking, low growing hedge in a sunny position Lavender Hidcote with its blue flowers makes for an interesting alternative and is guaranteed to attract the butterflies and the bees in abundance.

Summer vegetables 

There is still time in August to sow lettuce, baby spinach, spring cabbage, and other Chinese leaves to enjoy later.

Looking Ahead

Gardening is always about looking to the future and next year’s spring bulbs, such as Crocus, Daffodils, Tulips, Snowdrops and Hyacinths are arriving at Van Hage this month.  This may seem early, especially as we are currently basking in 30 degrees of sunshine, but many bulbs such as Snowdrops benefit from being planted as early as possible. Daffodils and Crocus can be planted in September and Tulips between October and November.  In the heat of summer, wildlife, birds, bees and butterflies enjoy a drink and certainly a small water feature or pond will enhance the garden and provide a cooling element, even just a small bowl or container sunk into the ground would work. You could fill the base with some ground stones or pebbles, then fill with water, and around your ‘pond’ you can plant hostas, ligularias, rodgersias, ferns, grasses and primulas. Wildlife will soon be attracted to the area and there will be reflections of the surrounding plants in the water and light reflected back from the surface -it’s a simple idea that can provide a little oasis in the summer heat and be a haven for wildlife.

While you’re sitting back enjoying the results of all your months of hard work, don’t forget to take some photos as these can be used to plan for next year as you decide what looks good in your garden, what works, and what may need to change. Gardens are always evolving, they never stay the same from one year
to the next.

We like to picture our customers enjoying their home grown herbs and salads and vegetables with food cooked on the barbecue, surveying the results of all their hard work,  perhaps with a glass of wine in hand…. And if that’s not you, don’t’ worry, there’s plenty of time to pick it up for the first time, or to start afresh with the new Autumn planting season. That’s the beauty of gardening!

And remember, we’re always here to help
The Van Hage Team