Garden Notes for August 2020.
Shrubs like deutzia, philadelphus and weigela – or any that have been flowering through June, July and early August, should be pruned now, or as soon as they have finished flowering. Shorten any exceptionally long shoots above the bud, then remove about one-third of the oldest stems. Now is the time to prune Rambler roses, when they have stopped flowering. Prune all stems that have flowered to ground level, train and tie in new shoots.
On other shrubs with new shoots showing, it is ideal to take cuttings during August. Choose sturdy, half mature side shoots and make a straight cut below the joint. Remove any leaves from the lower half of the cutting. Dip the bottom into hormone rooting powder and insert round the side of a pot filled with a suitable cutting compost. By spring, the plants should have rooted.
Thoughts should also be turning to winter and the need for winter flowering pansies means that they should be pricked out, as well as any of the other plants for early spring like wall flowers. Spring cabbage should be sown during August into a prepared bed, with sufficient moisture to allow easy germination. Winter lettuce that can be carried on under some protection should also be germinated now. Take care to keep the seed in a cool place and germination is very slow if the ambient temperature is over 20 Centigrade.
Earwigs can cause havoc amongst dahlias around this time. Traps made by using an upturned seed pot stuffed with dried grass or straw and placed on top of a bamboo cane about a metre long near the dahlias, will attract the insects and they can then be disposed of away from the plants.
If you see ants busily climbing stems of runner beans or other plants you can be sure that there is an infestation of one of the aphids – they are like cows to humans, and the ants ‘milk’ the aphis. Use your preferred insect killer method to control the infestation. I once had a whole crop of nasturtiums destroyed by blackfly because I did not try to control them.
Remember to order your bulbs for Christmas flowering, and start to get ready for the spring.
Keep a careful watch for potato blight. Cut off affected haulm and destroy it, don’t compost it.