Gardening advice - spend August collecting flower head seeds from your garden ready for next year
PUBLISHED: 11:55 29 July 2013 | UPDATED: 12:28 29 July 2013
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Collect flower head seeds from your garden this month ready for next year, says Dan Booth, head gardener at Brodsworth Hall
Gardening in August is all about extending the summer flowering season for as long as possible as well as planning ahead for winter and the following spring. If the weather is hot (fingers crossed) as it often is this month, then hopefully the grass and weeds will have started to slow down a little leaving you some spare time to complete the wide range of tasks that arrive as the summer winds down.
As mentioned last month, watering and dead heading are key things to keep on top of. Studious attention in these departments will ensure the flowering season of many plants is extended right through to the autumn. This is especially important for pots, troughs and baskets where the plants may need extra help. By now the hungry plants will have drained most of the nutrients out of the compost so add a liquid feed to keep a strong floral display you; tomato fertiliser is good at this time of year.
Here at Brodsworth we don’t always have time to liquid feed every pot, urn and tub so we mix in some homemade compost with the peat-free bagged compost in our containers which not only adds lots of nutrients but also helps retain moisture. If you have a compost heap at home, that isn’t too weedy, try this method; if nothing else it will save you money.
August can be a good time to collect seed from various annuals and perennials (if the weather has been dry enough to ripen seed heads). Hardy annuals seeds can be sown in situ outdoors now. Remember to clearly mark where you have sown so that you don’t disturb the seed during your winter digging or planting. The seed will overwinter in the soil and germinate next spring to flower in the summer thus starting the cycle all over again.
Cut back earlier flowering varieties in the herbaceous border some of which may be past their best; it will save time in the autumn when you’ll probably have millions of leaves to contend with. You could also divide some clumps at the same time but only if it is set to be damp weather or you are moving them to a relatively cool, shady or damp part of the garden; divided clumps can dry out very quickly. Hardy geraniums may need some light attention to keep them presentable too, take out any dead leaves and remove dead flowers to encourage a second flush. If you have ornamental grasses or other plants with interesting seed heads in your border leave the flower heads on to give striking winter interest on a frosty morning.
On the pruning front it is time to crack on with wisteria. This task can cause gardeners more anguish than any other type of pruning but it is relatively simple; just remember that wisteria needs pruning twice a year, summer and winter. This month prune each minor lateral shoot back to within five or six leaves of a main lateral on established wisteria. Once a main lateral has filled the necessary space, start to prune this back to within five or six leaves of the new growth each year. If your wisteria has become overgrown remove a main branch each year over several years to allow suitable replacements to take over.
We don’t have wisteria here at Brodsworth but we do have plenty of climbing and rambling roses. All of our 200-plus roses are old, pre-Victorian varieties many of which do not repeat flower. If you have any non-repeating climbing or rambling roses in your garden you can start to prune them this month after they have finished flowering. Given we’re still very busy here we tend to leave the major structural pruning until winter and often whip over our pergola with a pair of shears to speed up the process.
Looking ahead to next year you should start to think about your spring and summer bulbs. Plan a succession of flowers for your borders or containers and get your order in nice and early to avoid disappointment. It is still too early to plant but many bulb companies will hold your order until next month or even October and then send them out to be planted straight away.
Jobs for August
Vent glasshouses on hot days
Trim or tie in new shoots on climbers
Keep hoeing and weeding
Look out for powdery mildew, particularly prevalent at this time of year
Brodsworth Hall is a beautiful Victorian country house surrounded by a collection of grand gardens in miniature lovingly restored to their Victorian splendour.
For more information contact
Brodsworth Hall & Gardens