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Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 15 - August 2012
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.
  • Prune wisteria sideshoots back to 15-20cm.
  • Cut back pyracanthas.
  • Pinch out any flowers developing on coleus plants grown for foliage effect.
  • Get plants for free by taking cuttings from pinks, verbena, penstemons and osteospermums.
  • At the end of the month take softwood cuttings from pelargoniums, fuchsias and other tender plants you want to keep over winter.
  • Take semi-ripe heel cuttings of woody perennials.
  • Propagate clematis and rhododendrons by layering.
  • Divide bearded irises.
  • Clear older and rotting waterlily leaves from ponds and top up the water level if required.
  • Feed camellias and rhododendrons.
  • Plant autumn flowering bulbs.
  • 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.
  • Collect lavender flowers and herbs to dry out.
  • Pinch out outdoor tomatoes (nipping off the top of the plant). Keep on feeding indoor tomatoes, pinching out shoots and removing yellowing leaves.
  • 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.
  • Order garlic and onion sets to plant in the autumn.
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.
  • If vine weevils are a problem, apply chemical controls to container plants and those at risk in beds/borders.
  • Raise your lawn mower's cutting height, or mow less frequently, in dry weather.
  • Start saving seeds from plants which have finished flowering.
Sedum herbstfreudePlant of the month

Sedum 'Herbstfreude' is a deciduous perennial whose light pink stems are adorned with succulent leaves from spring. Green flower buds open into deep pink flowers, which last from now into autumn. This useful plant is drought tolerant and the darkened seedheads can be retained over the winter for added interest. Find out more...

Problem of the monthEarwig devouring a tomato

Earwigs can be detected by jagged holes in leaves, buds and petals, or burrows in fruits (here an earwig is shown eating a tomato). Damage to plants is minor, but it can be unsightly. Removing debris from around plants and shaking plants so the earwigs drop out and can be trod on, is usually a sufficient control. Use chemicals for larger infestations. Find out more...

In the news

Bees invoice the government

In a recent publicity stunt, Friends of the Earth supporters in bee costumes have presented government economic advisers with an invoice for £1.8bn, a figure which the University of Reading calculated it would cost to replace the 'free' pollination work which UK bees undertake each year. Friends of the Earth hope that the government will help protect British bees and stop the decline in numbers.

Alan steals a march over France-bound Monty

Alan Titchmarsh's 'Love Your Garden' show has beaten the BBC's Gardener's World Hampton Court specials in the ratings war. Last month Monty Don's Gardener's World had 1.61m viewers, but Titchmarsh romped ahead with 3.13m. Don's currently filming a BBC series on French gardens which is due to broadcast in April 2013.

Make Parks a Priority

The horticulture industry is lobbying to increase funding for UK parks. Reductions in funding have lead to a skills shortage for public parks and fears that this will create a spiral of decline in our open spaces. The campaign aims to establish a Parliamentary enquiry into the issues affecting urban parks.

20% of gardens subject to thefts

New research, by insurer More Than, shows that one in five gardeners have been victims of garden theft in the last 12 months, costing an average £72. Items most often stolen include roses, hanging baskets, olive trees and rare lilies.

Plans to re-landscape Stonehenge given green light

After 30 years of debate, work is about to start to improve the landscape and visitor facilities at Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Wiltshire. The plans, due to complete in summer 2014, will create a more peaceful landscape around the stone circle and include grassing over the road which currently runs close to the monument.


Let's get botanical!

Many gardeners find the botanical (or 'Latin') names for plants difficult to remember and often a mouthful to say, so most of us rely on common names to identify plants. Most of the time this works fine, but sometimes it can cause a little confusion. For example a Hemerocallis is usually called a 'daylily' but a Hosta can also be referred to as a 'day lily'. So it's always worth knowing the botanical names for plants, especially if you're shopping for plants, even if you don't often need to use them.

The botanical names are recorded in the 'International Code of Botanical Nomenclature', which ensures that each plant has a unique name and is referred to by the same name around the world.

The naming of plants works in a hierarchy, organising plants into groups with similar plants, the groups gradually becoming smaller as you come down the hierarchy. At the lowest level are the names which we use to refer to plants; the Genus, Species and Variety/Cultivar.

The Genus refers to the lowest level of grouping which the plant belongs to. The species identifies each different plant within that group (the species name often reflects the physical characteristics of the plant or the person who discovered it). The variety or cultivar name indicates a slight variation to the usual appearance of this species, which has either occurred naturally or been deliberately introduced by human cultivation.

If we take the Japanese maple Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' as an example, Acer is the genus name, which includes all maple plants, palmatum is the species name (called this because the leaves of this species resemble palms in shape) and 'Bloodgood' is the name of this cultivar (which has deep red/purple leaves).

Find out more about the botanical names for plants.

Why not try our Genus crossword puzzle below - the clues are all common names and the answers are the botanical Genus for that plant?

Genus crossword puzzle


1.Christmas rose
3. Dogwood
4. Maple
7. Mulberry
9. Daffodil
10. Heather


1. Witch hazel
2. Rose
3. Hornbeam
5. Trumpet vine
6. Edible berries, eg raspberry
8. Bleeding heart

Click here for a printable copy of the crossword

The answers will be in next month's newsletter.


What's on this month

Come rain or shine August is a great month for gardening events:

  • 3rd & 4th August - Taunton Flower Show, Taunton, Somerset.
  • 3rd to 5th August - RHS Hyde Hall Flower Show, Hyde Hall, Chelmsford, Essex.
  • 4th August - Local Produce Show, RHS Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon.
  • 5th & 6th August - Garden Advisory Day, RHS Harlow Carr, Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
  • 6th August - Organic Vegetables Talk, Loseley Park, Guildford, Surrey.
  • 12th August - Plant Fair, Renishaw Hall and Gardens, Renishaw, near Sheffield.
  • 16th to 19th August - Southport Flower Show, Victoria Park, Southport, Merseyside.
  • 18th & 19th August - Woburn Abbey Garden Show, Woburn Abbey, Woburn Park, Bedfordshire.
  • 19th August - Bonsai Demonstration, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Edgbaston, Birmingham.
  • 19th August - Open Garden in aid of the RNLI, Highnam Court Gardens, Highnam, Gloucestershire.
  • 22nd August - Gardens of Easton Lodge, Easton Lodge, Dunmow, Essex.
  • 25th to 27th August - Chilli Fiesta, West Dean Gardens, Chichester, West Sussex.
  • 25th to 27th August - Cacti and Succulents Show, RHS Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon.
  • 31st August to 2nd September - Dundee Flower and Food Festival, Camperdown Country Park, Dundee.