If you're having trouble reading this from your email, click here to access it through your internet browser.

Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 3 - August 2011
What to do now

Ornamental plants

  • Carry on deadheading, particularly repeat-flowering roses, and cut back flower spikes on perennials which have finished flowering.
  • Trim laurel, beech, hornbeam, leylandii, thuja, lavender, rosemary and santolina hedges.
  • Prune summer flowering shrubs such as lilacs and mock oranges as soon as they have finished flowering.
  • Trim the flower heads off lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and other self-seeding plants where you want to limit their spread.
  • At the end of the month take softwood cuttings from pelargoniums, fuchsias and other tender plants you want to grow on under cover over the winter.
  • Get plants for free by taking cuttings from pinks, verbena, penstemons and osteospermums.
  • Propagate lilies by removing stem bulbils (above ground) or bulblets (just below the soil).
  • Clear older and rotting waterlily leaves from ponds and top up the water level if required.
  • Plant autumn flowering bulbs.
  • Sow tender winter and spring flowering plants to have in your home or conservatory.
  • Start to force bulbs, such as hyacinths, for Christmas flowers.
Fruit and veg
  • Sow early carrots, peas, turnips, parsley, lettuce, baby spinach leaves, kohl rabi, winter spinach, coriander, spring cabbages, pak choi and Chinese cabbage.
  • Harvest blackberries, loganberries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, summer raspberries, early apples, French beans, runner beans, lettuce, beetroot, turnips, courgettes, onions, leeks, marrows, calabrese broccoli, summer squashes, sweetcorn, second early potatoes, tomatoes, globe artichokes and greenhouse grown tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, cucumbers and melons.
  • Pinch out outdoor tomatoes (nipping off the top of the plant). Keep on feeding indoor tomatoes, pinching out shoots and removing yellowing leaves.
  • Thin out heavy plum crops to reduce the risk of branches breaking.
  • Prune gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, summer fruiting raspberry canes, peaches, apples and fan-trained fruit trees.
  • Cut strawberry runners from the parent plants – layer them into pots first if you want more plants.
General tasks
  • Keep on weeding, watering and feeding, particularly newly planted specimens and container grown plants.
  • Ventilate your greenhouse well in hot weather, add extra shading if needed and damp it down regularly.
  • Keep an eye on sticky fly traps in greenhouses so you can monitor pest levels.
  • Raise your lawn mower’s cutting height, or mow less frequently, in dry weather.
  • Start saving seeds from plants which have finished flowering.
Ater amellus 'Violet Queen'Plant of the month

Aster amellus ‘Violet Queen’ produces narrow, mid green leaves in spring, followed by a cascade of richly violet flowers from midsummer to autumn.

Grows to 60cm high and prefers a sunny, well-drained spot.

Cut down to ground level after flowering. Find out more...

Problem of the monthCapsid bug damage

Capsid bugs, also known as 'mirids', are sap sucking insects which feed off a variety of plants from late spring through the summer.

They cause ragged, brown edged holes to appear in leaves, which can eventually join up to create larger holes. Leaves can also appear puckered or distorted. Find out more...

In the news

Adopt a pear tree!

The RHS and TreeWatch have asked gardeners to 'adopt' a local pear tree and monitor it for pear rust. Queries about the fungus have increased in recent years and the two organisations now want to monitor the situation in more detail. The infections are most virulent in August, September and October, so now's the time to get involved.

If you have a pear tree you can keep an eye on, visit the TreeWatch website for more information.

East Devon council microchips plants

Following a spate of thefts, the East Devon Parks Department has started to trial microchipping plants used in its public spaces so it can track them if they're stolen. The idea was inspired by a tree microchipping scheme at a local woodland cemetery which enables the council to record who is buried where! The chips cost just 10p each and should help the council both deter and catch thieves.

Lottery grant for local green spaces

A £200m Big Lottery Fund is set to support local green spaces in 150 urban and rural communities. Each community selected will receive at least £1m to support the improvement of their local neighbourhoods, tackling environmental, physical, social and economic development. The fund will be administered over the next 10 years by the Community Development Foundation.


Get the kids into gardening and beat school holiday boredom!

With the school holidays upon us, your garden (whether big or small) can be a great place for children. Why not give the kids part of the garden to look after? Encouraging them to grow their own food there (particularly quick crops like radishes) can capture their imagination and might even get them eating some veg! Or how about giving them some 'killer' plants to grow? Pitcher plants and cape sundews are happy outside in the summer and are fascinating plants; children will spend hours hunting out dead flies to feed to them!

Or what about looking at the design of your garden and thinking about how it could be more interesting for children? As well as providing them with their own space for gardening and/or playing, think about the types of plants they will be interested in. Anything that's touchy-feely, noisy or smelly will fascinate most children and add interest for adults too!

If you're enjoying a rainy summer, then indoor gardening can be a great way to keep children amused. Why not grow sprouting beans to eat or set up a terrarium in a big glass jar?

More ideas for gardening with children...


What's on this month

A small selection of the many gardening events on this month...

  • Now to 31st August - Great Garden Adventure, family activities, RHS Garden Wisley.
  • 6th & 7th August - Ayr Flower Show.
  • 6th & 7th August - Herb Weekend at Kedleston Hall, National Trust, Derbyshire.
  • 19th to 21st August - Norfolk Summer Garden Show, Royal Norfolk Showground, Norwich.
  • 21st August - Open gardens and tea at Harnage Farm and Stevenshill, Harnage, Shropshire.
  • 24th August - Propagation Workshop, Coleton Fishacre, National Trust, Devon.
  • 26th August - Willow Weaving, Sissinghurst Castle, National Trust, Kent.