The Garden in August

I recently realized that I am sharing my gardens with two different groups in August. I mentioned this to a gardening friend who asked if anything would be in bloom at that time. The answer is Yes! But it is not only flowers which provide interest in a garden. It has taken me a long time to achieve gardens that provide interest spring through late autumn. Let's take a look.

In the front gardens there are grasses both annual and perennial. Sedum 'Autumn Joy Echinacea which was pinched back in early June (before flower formation) to delay bloom, oregano in its second bloom, feverfew in its second bloom, 'Stella Oro' daylilies which have repeated bloom all summer long, perennial geraniums which have repeated blooms after a fresh application of compost. Heirloom marigolds, self-seeding cosmos, Marguerite daisies, lisianthus with their rose-like flowers, and stocks round out the picture. Orach, a relative of spinach, has been trying to bolt all season long but I have been pinching it back so the maroon leaves are still providing some interest.

In back of the house we see Alocasia with its beautiful leaves, Jacob's ladder which still produces a few flowers this late in the season, white nicotiana which reseeds every year, Heuchera which still provides leaf interest.

One side garden has Echinacea and Lamium, a creeping ground cover. When the Lamium got ratty looking I cut it back. Another side garden consists of a hosta and fern collection. It has been a struggle to keep the hostas looking good. I used diatomaceous earth with mixed results. The slugs hate it when it is dry but crawl over it when it rains. I have used beer here in dishes sunk into the soil to drown the slugs. My husband buys quality beers. Next year I will buy cheap beer.

The large herb garden is still producing vigorously. I pinched back all the beebalms in early June to delay their bloom. Thank mildew this year. The lovage and sorrel are still producing leaves succulent enough to be harvested along with the basil. The catnips are over 5 feet tall. Our four cats will be quite happy. The peppermint, applemint, orangemint, lemon mint, and chocolate mint, are still trying to take over the gardens but their flowers are inviting to many kinds of bees which is a good thing. The horseradish looks vigorous enough. I can't wait until autumn to dig it up. (A point worth mentioning here... when grinding horseradish don't add the vinegar too early or you will stop the release of allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil) which is what gives horseradish its pungency.)

The rose garden has survived another year of Japanese beetles. This year I knocked the beetles into soapy solution as I always do. But I cut off all the rose flowers during their attack time so they wouldn't provide nourishment to the bettles. Did this do any good? I honestly don't know. I also picked off any yellow leaves and black spotted leaves off the roses. Several are producing lovely blooms. The lavender which forms the boundary of the rose garden has produced its second bloom. It is so lovely. We enjoyed watching the bumblebees, solitary bees, honeybees, and wasps, tip the flower stalks over in their quest for nectar and pollen.

The border has shrubs past their bloom but still interesting because of the leaves. The elderberries are covered with fruit. The hydrangeas are still looking perky with their dry flower heads. The clematis are still trying to produce seed heads which I remove so they have been forced to reflower. Yes, if people look there will still be a great deal to see.

Forever Young Magazine - August 2009