The month of July ran into August with lots of sun, very hot days of over 30C and no rain, the ground being so dry and hard that to try and plant anything in the garden was deemed impossible with trowel or hand fork or even a digging fork.
Through the first and second weeks of August, countless hours were spent watering pots of plants, frames full of plants, compost and leaf bins, rooted cuttings in the cut flower garden and in the main garden as well. Especially the runner bean plants and sweet peas that do need plenty of water. Newly planted plants from the beginning of this year, variegated holly Cornus plants that had been pruned earlier in the year and the new plum tree had gallons of water tipped around them. All the perennial plants were dropping especially the Phlox plants, which have very shallow roots. The plants in the Rose Garden have had many waterings, including the two beautiful Rosa “Blush Noisette’s” on the House walls.
The Rowan tree, Fraxinus Excelsior, was dug up from behind the Learning Centre and re-planted into the Shrubbery and unfortunately died back after much mollycoddling and lots of water, and has now thrown up a new shoot from the base of the dead stem and is about 12”/20cms high which will be tied to the dead stem as it grows with the dead stem eventually being removed to allow the shoot to grow into a strong new tree.
The latter half of August has been a mixture of hot sunny days, thundery days with much oppressive mugginess, heavy showers of rain, very strong winds, some of which carried Sahara sand to our shores, cool mornings and evenings and sightings of the Autumn Orb spiders sitting at the centre of their intricate webs in the garden plants and doorway of the greenhouse.
Typical Autumn flowers out in the garden are Antirrhinums Heleniums, Cyclamen Hederifolium, Phlox Paniculata, Ferarria Tigridia, Love-Lies-Bleeding (they have long tassel-like flowers in red, brown or green), Sunflowers, Cardoon (an ornamental artichoke), Cosmos, Eryngeum, Ritro, Gladioli sp, Montbretia, Agastache, Agapanthus, Japanese Anemones, Campsis Radicans (red tubular flowers on trellis near the learning centre) Tagetes T.S.P. are there for all to see.
Jobs for the August garden continue to keep tall plants well staked. Watering to be done when conditions are dry. Dead heading to encourage more flowers. The picking of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. Weeding must be kept up particularly for gardens with Bindweed in. This plant can be encouraged to grow up sticks or canes, then by covering the surrounding plants, can be safely sprayed with a glycol type weed killer, such as Roundup or a brushwood weed killer, as these weed killers will kill the roots as well as the leafy parts.
The swallows have had 3 clutches of chicks this year with each clutch having 5 babies. 15 babies without any losses. Excellent! There are still Buzzards to be seen and heard over the garden. We had an early in the year visitor, a Raven, flying by and earlier in the month a Red Kite.
Butterflies seen are Holly Blue, Cabbage White, Orange Tip, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Red Admiral, Peacock, many honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, hover flies, dragonfly’s, Green fly and Black fly but no Ladybirds. Happy gardening.
Celia Simpson - Gardener at Jane Austen’s House Museum