August brings heat and drought to the garden. How will the plants and animals handle the hot weather?
How can you improve your garden in August? Hover over the photos links to see the subject then just click to read more.
Top 10 Gardening Tasks for August
Just choose a couple of these little tasks each week. You’ll stay on top of things in your garden, produce lovely plants and most importantly save yourself a load of money time and effort if you do these now.
- Sow Biennials Like many gardeners I love planning ahead. One of my favourite jobs in summer is to sow Biennials. Sown now they’ll produce sturdy healthy plants for planting out in early autumn where you want them to flower next spring. If you sow plenty you’ll have hundreds of gorgeous plants to enjoy in your garden and plenty to pick, share with your family and impress your friends too.
- Order Annual Seeds Plan your Cutting Patch or Annual flower scheme for next year and order your favourite seeds to make sure you get exactly what you have in mind. If you have space I recommend sowing super hardy annuals outdoors at the end of August or in September so your new plants can produce good foliage and roots before winter sets in. You’ll always get the strongest plants with most flowers by sowing early like this.
- Sow Wildflower Seeds August and September are great months to sow wildflowers. The soil is still warm and seeds germinate fast producing lovely healthy plants before winter sets in. British wildflowers are quite hardy and will survive the worst of our winter weather. As soon as temperatures warm up in spring they’ll start producing shoots and leaves ready for flowering in early summer. If you have an established wildflower patch allow the seeds to ripen throughout August then cut the stalks and give them a good shake. Seeds fall to the ground will germinate and provide you with another colourful show next year.
- Support your tall plants. It’s not too late to put in some emergency supports to cope with plants that have grown taller than you expected this year. It’s quite normal for some perennials such as Asters, Echinacaea, Rudbeckia and Heleniums to take two or three years to reach their full height. It’s also amazing how some annual flowers can shoot up given plenty of water and food too. Allowing them to flop means their stems will twist and bend towards the light. You can use purpose made metal plant supports, twiggy sticks or simply rig up some stakes with garden twine to support long stems so your precious flower heads don’t get snapped off by heavy rain and strong wind.
- Cut back herbs and perennials. Early flowering perennials such as Geraniums and some herbs often look past their best by now. Cut them back with shears to just a couple of inches/5 cm above ground level. Feed and water them thoroughly. Although chopping them back like this seems brutal it’s a fast and effective way to encourage fresh new growth. You’ll certainly get plenty of new leaves and most likely a second flush of gorgeous blooms too.
- Feed and Water Pots. Plants growing in pots, hanging baskets and containers usually need more attention than those growing in the ground because they have a limited supply of food and water. They rely on you to look after them! I’ve found that it helps to use large pots and group them together. They make a great display and I can water them easily. Deadhead to prolong flowering and add food to the water once each week so they stay healthy and green.
- Pots for Autumn. Container grown plants don’t need to be fancy, unusual or expensive. Make life easy for yourself! If you have spare home grown plants such as Dahlias, Alchemilla or Rudbeckia then plant up some pots for an autumn display. You can mix them up but often one type of each plant in a pot looks stunning.
- Provide fresh water. Top up small ponds and bird baths with water to make sure that birds and amphibians have access to water at all times. August may be very hot so your garden wildlife will use the water you provide for drinking and to keep themselves cool.
- Allow seed heads to form. Some plants have finished flowering and are already developing distinctive seed heads with lovely ripe seeds. These seed heads will provide a source of food for birds and small mammals and sheltered hiding places for tiny insects.
- Count Butterflies. There’s a nationwide survey of butterflies going on this month. To take part just spend 15 minutes recording the butterflies you see on a sunny day in your garden, local park or playing field until 7th August and send the results to The Big Butterfly Count. I’ve already tried this in our garden and was amazed by how many there were feeding on Buddlejas.
UK Weather in August
August in the UK is usually hot with long sunny days and daytime temperatures between 20°C – 30°C. Night time temperatures may fall to around 13°C but when humidity is high then nights can remain warm and sultry with temperatures not much lower than during the day.
Sea breezes are usually light at this time of year which means that coastal areas and higher ground will only be slightly cooler.
In the south and south east of the UK rainfall is very low during August with just 50mm of rain falling. Further north rainfall is higher, especially in north west Scotland.
Occasionally areas of low pressure over the UK bring exceptionally high rainfall. High temperatures and high humidity means that rainfall may be heavy and thunderstorms are likely. In between showers there are often spells of warm fine dry weather.
The Year of the Slug
In August 2012 sunshine was below normal across the UK and it was very wet in the north and west… South West England and Cumbria had more than twice their usual rainfall. For farmers the wet and cloudy weather affected yields of fruit, vegetables and cereal crops. Gardeners may remember 2012 as the year of the slug. The cooler damp conditions suited our slimy friends and many plants suffered or perished. Lets hope we don’t have a repeat of that in 2016!
Whatever the weather I always think that August is amazing. It’s the last month of summer and our gardens are bursting with fruit, vegetables, herbs and beautiful flowers visited by bees and butterflies. I wish you a very happy month. Gillian