August is a month where perennials come to the fore with stunning colours and a plant for every type of soil.
Daisy style flowers are always popular and one of the best for a sunny garden with soil that does not dry out are Heleniums. They grow to about 80cms tall and have yellow, orange or red flowers that last for a few weeks if you keep then dead headed. If you plant them in front of the potentially tall, light yellow daisy flowers of Helianthus Lemon Queen, you will get a long display of colour. Lemon Queen does need a heavier soil that does not dry out.
For those with heavy wet soil, August is the best time of year for flowering. Two plants that will grow up each year from nothing to 2m are Eupatorium maculatum and Actaea simplex. Both like a fertile moisture retentive soil and are definitely for the back of the border. As you can see from the photo, the Eupatorium has tall stems topped with frothy heads of pink flowers and is planted behind Geranium Buxton Blue, a long flowering geranium. Actaea (previously known as Cimicifuga) simplex Brunette has dark purple foliage and the flowers are tall wands of white tapering bottlebrush flowers.
Another lovely climber for late summer is Clematis Perle d’Azur. This clematis has light blue blooms and has a long period of flowering. Plant with roses or to climb into a shrub that flowered earlier in the season and cut back hard in early spring to about 50cm.
August is the last month to trim conifers so that new growth has time to mature before winter frosts. Plant seeds of Winter lettuce and Land Cress for salad leaves. Make sure your lift onions and dry in the sun before storage. Pumpkins and squashes can be lifted off the bare soil with straw to prevent damage.
If you would like to visit gardens for ideas, I suggest you 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 near Warrington is open on 13th and 14th August and you can see late flowering herbaceous borders, water garden and prairie planting with drifts of perennials. The Birches Mollington, near Chester is also open on 13th and 14th August with herbaceous borders, a grass and fern area , orchard and vegetable garden.