Fruits of August: The earliest apples are crunchy, juice and sharp. They don’t keep for long, best to eat them straight from the tree. ‘Discovery’ is a favourite being the first and most reliable. Colour from the skin seems to seep into the flesh giving it a pink stain. ‘Katy’ is another early which is worth planting, it has profuse spring blossom. ‘Early Windsor’ is a juicy apple with a rather aromatic flavour, it ripens late in August despite its name. Cultivated blackberries are ready this month. Damsons too, along with other plums and gages are ripe by the end of the month. Were you going on holiday? Pity. Last year, pushed for time, damsons and blackberries were picked and shoved in the freezer. Later I made a rich, black, sharp tasting jelly which was a mixture of both fruits, the damsons enhanced the muskiness of the cultivated blackberries, which sometimes lack the punch of the wild ones.
Think Ahead: Yes the bulb catalogues are here, the year is turning. Gardeners are always looking ahead. It really is worth ordering the highest quality bulbs now, for delivery in the autumn, when you are ready to plant. To go with your bulbs plant wallflower seedlings by the end of the month.
Sow and Sow: Sow hardy annuals this month and you will be rewarded by tough bushy plants that flower their hearts out next summer: Cornflower (Centaurea cyaneus), Sweet peas in variety, Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena), opium poppies (Papaver somnifera), plus the umbellifers: Bishop’s flower (Ammi majus), White lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora), and wild carrot, (Daucus carota). What a wonderful combination, if there was space I would have a whole hardy annual border. Sow salads and herbs for the autumn and winter leaves: mustard and oriental greens, chervil dill, parsley, spinach and endive.
Slug ‘em: This is a good time to apply nematodes to reduce the slug population. The soil will be warm enough to enable them to get to work effectively.
Lavender’s blue: Prune english lavender (Angustifolia varieties) at the end of the month, when the flowers are over. Although this is recommended for gardens in milder areas, rather than the brisk environment of the Edge of the Peak District, I am going to try it anyway. Cut back the soft growth quite hard to encourage bushy new growth. If they look a bit bald don’t worry, the leaves will come again before the winter. There is a risk that this growth will be soft and susceptible to frost damage. I am gambling that mine will be ok as they are planted a very well drained part of the garden. We shall see.
Water Water everywhere: Remember to water trees and shrubs planted this year. Leave water out for birds and insects.
Dawdle and Snip: Deadhead roses whenever you have a few minutes of leisure to wander round the garden. But leave herbaceous seed heads until next spring. They will provide seeds for birds and hibernating spots for insects, as well as giving some structure over the winter.