August is a riot of bright reds, oranges, yellow and cooler blues, with herbaceous plants taking centre stage whilst the flowering shrubs retire into the background. This year has been good for slugs and snails so some plants have suffered and can be reduced to sorry stems.
Taller plants for the back of a border include Knipofia (Red Hot Poker) and the variety Bees Sunset has 90cm flower heads in orange, fading to yellow, in late summer. They need full sun and heavier soil to grow well. Plant alongside Helenium Butterpat (yellow) or Moerheim Beauty (red/orange) for zingy colour in the border. Another reliable perennial is the Shasta daisy or Leucanthemum. Very white daisy flowers with a yellow centre. The varieties Snowcap and Phyllis Smith will grow to about 50cm on robust stems.
I love growing Gladioli and you can get some lovely flowers in different shades (see photo of red flowers) that will come up each year, provided they have sun and well drained soil. Plant the corms amongst low growing perennials so they soar upwards in late summer. A good ground cover flower is Geranium Rozanne. This sends out many stems which trail a little but has rich blue flowers for weeks. They are good for the front of the border surrounding Stipa gigantea, the tall oat grass whose stems float above most plants.
Hydreangeas should still be in flower in August and enjoy damp soil so will struggle a bit in light sandy soil. If you have acid soil you can grow the blue flowered varieties but for most of us with alkaline soil, your flowers are going to be white, pink or red. Very easy to grow but bear in mind they will get to 1m tall and wide. If you prune back each year, this will reduce your flowers.
Work to do in the garden includes final trimming of evergreen shrubs so any new growth has time to ripen and be undamaged by winter cold. Lightly trim Lavender – a lovely job with the scent wafting up! Apples and pears grown as espaliers should have side shoots back to three leaves from the new growth. Wisteria need to have the new growth of long whippy stems cut back to 30cms.
If you would like to visit gardens, look out for gardens open under the National Gardens Scheme where all proceeds go to charities including Marie Cure Cancer Care and Macmillan Cancer Support.
Laskey Farm, Thelwall, Warrington is open on 10th and 11th August. This 1.5 acre garden has sculptures set in the prairie planted area which forms a maze. Also interlocking pools forming an unusual water garden, herbaceous borders with late summer colour and vegetable area.