A splendid pink Lacecap Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla normalis)

A Grow-Your-Own Garden Festival

6th August 2010

Tips for August gardening from National Garden Gift Vouchers

August is festival time – the Edinburgh Festival, the Notting Hill Carnival and masses of music festivals all take place this month. It’s a real celebration of summer and of our more relaxed way of living during the warmer months of the year.

It’s also time to enjoy a home grown festival of your own if you planted fruit and vegetables earlier in the year. August is a month of gathering, harvesting, bottling and jam making for all ‘Grow Your Own’ gardeners. Cherry tomatoes from the vine, sweetcorn on the barbecue and a warm salad of tender green beans… that’s what all that hard work was for!

Recent research published in the Neighbourhood Crop Swap by PlantforLife shows the trend for growing your own in the UK has doubled with over half (54%) of UK gardeners now growing fruit and vegetables compared to just a fifth two years ago. Despite this trend, 40% of people don’t think they have enough space to grow and a quarter don’t even know what they can grow… but the secret isn’t about space. By working together as a community, and each growing different fruit and vegetables, it doesn’t matter whether you have a garden, balcony or roof garden, as there will always be something to suit everyone’s taste and garden space. Once all the planting is done you can share, enjoy and tuck-in to all the freshly grown produce as a community – a neighbourhood crop swop.

Apart from the veg patch there are – of course – other areas of the garden that need a bit of attention at the moment. Make sure you regularly dead head (remove dead flower heads) from plants in the garden as this keeps them flowering and check if any tall bushy flowers need a stake for support. Keep an eye on your lawn and make sure that is mowed and weeded, and towards the end of this month give it a bit of a feed too. Remember to keep everything watered. If you want to save on water then use your washing up water for plants in the borders: they love it…

…As, too, will your Hydrangeas – magnificent flowers that bring flamboyant colour to the garden in late summer and autumn. They are easy to grow and dependable; they improve with age and can be used in big, bold groups in the border or in large containers. As they are deciduous, treat them as large shrubs or small trees. Originally from Japan, Hydrangeas are true survivors and can be often seen flowering in overgrown and neglected gardens, which makes them a great plant for amateur and experienced gardeners alike. Mop heads (with rounded heads of large flowers) and Lace Caps (flattened heads of large flowers) prefer dappled shade against a north or west facing wall and need plenty of water during the summer. Pruning isn’t essential but can be done each spring as new shoots appear.

You should also start planning your spring bulb display … most garden centres and nurseries will have a good supply of stock and for those with a passion for daffodils it’s an excellent time to use your National Garden Gift Vouchers.

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