Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 27 - August 2013
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.
  • Tie in climbers.
  • Get plants for free by taking cuttings from pinks, verbena, penstemons and osteospermums.
  • Take cuttings from alpine plants.
  • At the end of the month take softwood cuttings from pelargoniums, fuchsias and other tender plants you want to keep over winter.
  • Clear older and rotting waterlily leaves from ponds and top up the water level if required.
  • Plant autumn flowering bulbs.
  • Sow cyclamen seeds.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer'Plant of the month

Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer' is a tall, deciduous, herbaceous perennial which flowers from June to October. The large, daisy like blooms are deep orange fading to yellow at the tips. It prefers a sunny spot with moist, nutrient rich soil and should be divided every 3 to 4 years to maintain vigour. Find out more...

Problem of the monthA lettuce bolting

Bolting is the term used when a plant prematurely flowers and produces seed, generally applied to vegetables which bolt before they can be harvested. It can be caused by planting or sowing too early. The stresses of drought can also lead to it. It's particularly prevalent with onions, beetroot, celery, spinach and lettuce (as shown here). Choosing bolt-resistant varieties, planting later in the season and watering well in drought conditions can help to prevent bolting. Find out more...

In the news

Lady Marmalade wins Rose of the Year

Rosa 'Lady Marmalade', bred by Harkness, has been crowned the 2014 Rose of the Year in the annual awards by Cockers rose suppliers. They describe it as "a stunning Floribunda which is the perfect combination of modern rose quality and old world charm".

Cows move to Kensington

Four British Longhorn cows have been introduced to Holland Park, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, for 10 weeks over the summer to assist with grounds maintenance. The aim is that the hungry bovines will reduce the number of invasive plants, such as nettles, to prepare the ground for wildflower planting.

Salford project leads the way

The Biospheric project in Salford, Greater Manchester, opened to the public for the first time last month. The 780sq metre development is "part farm, part laboratory" as it focuses not only on crop production but also on being a testing ground for future regeneration projects. The development, created on previously derelict ground in this deprived part of the country, has also provided employment and volunteering opportunities within the local community.


Summer garden quiz

August gives most gardeners a bit of a breather. The hectic sowing and planting of spring is done and the pruning and tidying of autumn is yet to come. So why not sit back, enjoy the spells of sunshine, and have a go at our quiz? You might even find some of the answers in your own garden.

  1. What summer flowering plant, usually bearing long spikes of purple blooms, is named after the Reverend Adam Buddle, a 17th century amateur botanist?

  2. 'Baby' bulbs appear in the leaf axils of lilies this month and can be planted in a tray as a means of propagation. What is the correct name for these mini bulbs?

  3. What evergreen, herbaceous perennial, grown for its colourful foliage and summer flower spikes, has cultivars including 'Mocha', 'Purple Petticoats' and 'Blackbird'?

  4. Which genus of summer flowering shrubs is named after the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566)?

  5. What garden pest initially munches on roots (in its larval stage when it's a 1cm white, curled larva with a brown head) before the black, flightless adults move up to eat neat holes in the leaves, particularly taking U shaped notches out of the leaf margins?

  6. A calcium deficiency can be caused by poor watering in the summer as plants can only draw up calcium with water. This can particularly affect fruit and vegetables. Can you name three symptoms of calcium deficiency?

  7. The genus name of which summer flowering grass translates as 'cutting instrument', referring to its razor sharp leaves?

  8. Blueberries will crop best on acidic soil, whereas celery and lettuce crops prefer a slightly alkaline soil. If your soil has a pH of 5.5, is it acidic or alkaline?

  9. What fungal disease causes expanding circles of toadstools to grow in grass?

  10. Sneezeweed is a common name for which summer flowering plant? The name derives from the use of its dried, powdered roots as snuff.

The answers will be revealed in next month's newsletter.


What's on this month

For those who enjoyed the heatwave of July, August might be starting off as a cooler affair, but that's no reason to hide indoors. There are plenty of garden events to visit come rain or shine!

  • 27th July to 5th August - Carlow Garden Festival, Carlow, County Carlow, Ireland.
  • 29th July to 2nd August & 5th to 9th August - Bat Nights, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, St Austell, Cornwall.
  • 1st to 4th August - Flower Show, RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Chelmsford, Essex.
  • 3rd August - Agapanthus Open Day, Hilltop Nursery, Beaulieu, Hampshire.
  • 6th, 13th, 20th & 27th August - Edible Gardening - Seasonal Advice Weekly Drop In, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh.
  • 4th August - Plant Hunters Fair, Adlington Hall, Macclesfield, Cheshire.
  • 11th August - Grow your Own Festival, Parham House & Gardens, Storrington, West Sussex.
  • 18th August - Red Cross Open Garden, Grimston Court, Grimston, York.
  • 24th to 26th August - All About Gardening Show, Norfolk Showground, Norwich, Norfolk.