Seasonal Surgery

August is the month where our Summer garden begins to wane, flowers are fading, veg is ready for cropping and the onset of Autumn is starting to feel too real. Now is the time where you can really enjoy your labour of love.

Second Summer Flush

Early flowering perennials will have long since finished flowering, and their old flowering stems will gradually be going to seed, possibly starting to look a little tatty. Unless you want to keep the seed for propagation or the seed heads are of particular ornamental value, they can be rejuvenated with a good trim, while trees and shrubs will benefit from having dead wood removed.

Do your plants have the ability to re-bloom? Cottage garden classics, such as hardy geraniums, delphiniums, lupins and cornflower all do, so cut them back hard now they’re on the fade, provide them with water and liquid feed, and you’ll quickly get a fresh flush of leaves and a second (albeit smaller) flowering display.

What and When

This is something you can actually do earlier on in the year too. Cut back your cottage perennials by a third, around May time before they bloom to get them to flower later in the year. You could cut back some of the plant and leave the rest to get different flowering times from the same plant.

Alchemilla mollis is one of the best plants to chop back, a plant that is badmouthed for its propensity to self-seed everywhere. However, this can be prevented if the whole plant is sheared back to the ground as soon as the flowers begin to turn from sulphur-yellow to light-brown. Within a couple of weeks, fresh new leaves will reappear with that lovely glaucous, green colouring. Do a little bit of research first as not all plants respond well to this type of pruning.

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