August 2019 Gardening Tips

by The English Lady

August 8, 2019

August has always been one of my least favorite months in the garden; but this August rated pretty high for me with plentiful rain resulting in fragrance, bloom and beautiful foliage.  We have such a short blooming and growing season here in New England that any extra time to have a good-looking border is much appreciated.  Of course there are always a few gaps to fill in with annuals or some later blooming perennials; our gardens are constantly a changing scene of beauty in motion  

Plantings that looked good last year, may be oversized, and desperately in need of division or transplant. In September when the weather is cooler, go into your borders and transplant some out so that every plant can have its own space with plenty of air circulation and able to perform to its optimum level.  Divide those plants that have been in the soil for 4 years or more and have not been blooming so readily lately. There are always fellow gardeners who will be thrilled to receive some of the divisions. 

Keep up with your deadheading; the garden should always look fresh and perky. After a few hot, dry days make sure that the garden receives at least one inch of water a week with containers needing a daily dose of water.  Soaker hoses in the borders are a much more efficient method of watering as the water goes straight to the roots and as a consequence, 40% of moisture is not lost in evaporation. By using the soaker hose method in the borders you keep water off the foliage, which often results in disease and mildew.

After you cut back tired looking annuals, you will soon see a new flush of bloom.  If by this time, your borders are looking somewhat weary and need a boost of some additional to perk things up, garden centers are now offering late season bargains. When the Coreopsis and Spirea has finished blooming, shear off the dead bloom in one fell swoop and vibrant new bloom will appear.  

Roses – it is important to stop feeding roses now in August. Roses require at least nine weeks without using energy on new growth so they can go into a slow healthy dormancy before the first frost. In my September tips I will give you suggestions on pruning roses lightly in early fall, followed by a second pruning the following April. This double pruning method produces the healthiest and most prolific bloom. 

Containers - give your containers a little extra composted manure every couple of weeks when watering to keep the look of the containers bright and cheerful. Add the manure on top of the natural brown mulch as both manure and mulch help retain moisture and helps retard weeds. If in the morning you do not have time to water the containers before you go off to work or run errands, simply empty your ice trays into the containers, this will provide slow release watering until you are able to add more when you return.   

With all my talk on watering I am not discounting the amount of rain we have been experiencing in recent days, however, with the heat and humidity, powdery mildew is likely to appear on certain species like summer phlox, Monarda and Hydrangeas.  

If you notice a mildew problem I suggest you spray with my remedy of one gallon of water in a spray container adding one tablespoon of baking soda and a dash of vegetable oil.  Always spray in the morning before the temperature and humidity numbers combined together to rise above 160.  

Continue adding more composted manure to vegetables each month, as vegetables particularly annual vegetables are heavy feeders. To prevent animals from munching on your precious bounty, place an old sneaker or a piece of carpet that your dog had lain on for a while amongst the vegetables; these odors help to keep furry marauders away. 
Place your orders for Peonies now so they can be delivered for September planting. September is the only month suitable to transplant, divide or plant new Peonies. Following the first hard frost in November cut Peonies down to six inches from the ground and add a little natural brown mulch around them to protect the pink-eyed roots, which are close to the soil surface. When planting Peonies or transplanting make sure that the ‘pink eyes’ on the roots are barely covered with soil, if planted any deeper, it is likely that you may not have bloom next year.  

Begin compiling your list of spring bulbs now for the best choice of bulbs to be available for you. Please feel free to email me with any gardening questions to I’ll see you in your garden next month, in the meantime enjoy the fruits of your labor and make sure to stretch and stay hydrated.