August 2014-04-13T19:05:57+00:00

winter-gardenAugust is the start of  new growth as the weather takes it turn for the better.

The windy month, but an exciting one, for all that! If you planted a “Winter Garden” then the beds should now be full of bloom, and they will remain colourful longer if you pay attention to keeping the dead flower heads picked off.??All outstanding winter work should be completed as quickly as possible. This will include the planting of trees, shrubs and hedges and pruning, especially of fruit and rose trees. Even though the trees are probably showing signs of growth, it won’t hurt them to be cut back now and, for the beginner, late pruning is to be preferred as it is easy at this time of the year to see which is old and dead wood.??WHAT’S IN BLOOM???August should really begin to show the effect of wise planting. There should be camellias in bloom, Japanese quince opening its shell-like flowers against a sunny wall and sprays of almond blossom. The beautiful silver leaved Acacia baileyana will be in bloom now, as well as the starry-flowered yellow jasmine. If none of these subjects are already in the garden you will be well advised to make a note of them in your gardening diary now. Consider planting an almond. It needs little attention, requiring no pruning. It is almost the first of the trees to come into bloom, the sprays of blossom make a charming flower arrangement and if cut when in bud the blossoms will open when brought into a room and continue decorative over a long period. And, of course, the blossom you do not cut will give you a harvest of nuts. The almond is an excellent choice all round.??August flowering plants are usually tough; they have to stand up to fierce winds, often quite cold nights, and sudden rises of temperature during the daytime.??Among these plants the Paris daisy (Chrysanthemum frutescens) is outstanding. It is fine when grown as a low hedge, makes a most decorative specimen, and is good for growing in pots or large tubs on the stoep. There are several varieties. The white Paris daisy has finely-cut glaucous foliage, and a large specimen will carry hundreds of flowers at a time. There is a very dainty pink-flowered form, which is not quite so free flowering but is none the less attractive, and a yellow variety, which is often grown for its cut-flower value. These plants grow very easily from cuttings, which may be taken now and rooted in sandy soil. The plants will flower well this year and should be pinched back once or twice while they are young to induce them to bush out.??CUTTINGS??Cuttings of a number of plants for summer flowering can be made now. Geraniums and fuchsias are commencing to make new growth now and the young shoots can be propagated. Just be sure that your cuttings are kept shaded until they are well rooted, and slightly water if they show a tendency to flag.??Chrysanthemums are making new growth now and strong shoots taken from the outside of the plants will be just right to take as cuttings. Whether you wish to increase your stock or not is is always best to raise young stock annually and not to rely on old plants.??FUCHSIAS??Fuchsias are among the finest plants there are for growing in light shade and for planting somewhere near the front of a mixed collection of shrubs. There are some wonderful fuchsias obtainable now.??BRIGHT COLOURS??If you have decided to have a mixture of bright colours this season in the garden, you have a very wide choice. Zinnias, in dazzling reds, orange and scarlets are avail-able in all the different forms of this versatile flower, which range from neat little quilled and pompom types to the huge dahlia-flowered kind. Marigolds will also offer a wide range of colour.??SOFT COLOURS??Perhaps you prefer the softer tones. Asters are available in pink, peach and silvery lavender. Ageratum has a misty blue tint and combines very well with pale shell-pink Begonia semperflorens. Petunias in the softer tints are restful to the eye and make a good show in the garden.??SEED SOWING??If you have some place where the young plants may be raised under cover, you may make a start with the first of the spring work by sowing seeds of these and many others of the half-hardy annuals now. Do not forget those very light and graceful annuals which mix so well with the stiffer and more formal types – pink or white annual Gypsophila, Saponaria and the ornamental grasses are excellent mixers. There are many different kinds of ornamental grasses and all too few gardeners appear to be aware of the interest and beauty they can contribute to the garden.??”Everlastings” may be sown towards the end of the month. Helichrysum, Rhodanthe, Lunaria, Physalis and Molucella (lovely when dried) can all be included in this month’s sowing programme.??REPOTTING??Most ferns are beginning to show signs of new growth now. It is, therefore, the time for repotting. Tap the rim of the container lightly against a hard object, slant the pot and allow the fern to slide out, soil and all. Shake some of the soil free. The fern is now replanted in the same container. Place clean crocks at the bottom of the pot, then a layer of leaf mould or compost and put the fern in again. Fill up now with fresh soil. Tap the bottom of the container lightly on the floor to set-tle the plant well in. Larger ferns should, if necessary, be repotted into larger pots Otherwise they can be divided up with a knife into smaller plants. There is no danger that the plants will be damaged in this way.??A good potting mixture for most plants is three parts soil, two parts good compost and one part sharp river sand. If you can get hold of some coarse charcoal and mix with this, so much the better. Always use pots and crocks which have been well cleaned, pay very particular attention to drainage and leave sufficient space at the top of the pot to permit of easy watering. Avoid using too large pots, as most plants like to feel their roots against the side of the pots, to which they will cling. If your plant pots develop a green scum or moss, take a scrubbing brush and brush it off. It is not harmful in itself but interferes with porosity, and is unattractive.

LAWNS??You must now give the lawn its springtime treatment.??First of all get a good sharp-toothed rake and then rake the lawn as though you really mean it, first across, then down, and next diagonally, until you’ve got rid of all the dead undermat, which can be put straight on to the compost heap. It is surprising how much of this stuff you will get out of even a small-sized lawn. When you have finished cut off the tufts of grass sticking up with the garden shears. After that take a hollowtine fork and if this is not available a garden fork (a lawnspiker is useful and does thejob more quickly). Drive it into the turf every 30cm or so, working the prongs right down as far as they will go and giving them a bit of a wriggle. That will open up the surface and let in air, and of course the water and food you may give the lawn later on. Once this has been done a top-dressing may be applied.??The most important thing about a top-dressing is that the lawn can be smoothed out in this manner. After a top-dressing, the lawn will also become green very quickly.??Watering is now very necessary. Where you are dependant upon the tap, it would be better to postpone the operation until September or October when the spring rains begin. When once the lawn has been attented to it must be watered regularly otherwise the results will be disappointing.?If the soil is acid, it is now the best time for an application of agricultural lime. Scatter it evenly on the surface -50 g per square metre. Also apply a balanced fertilizer of 50 g 2.1.2(26) of 2.1.0(17) per square metre.??After this the top-dressing can be given if you prefer it. Prepare this by mixing two parts of garden soil, one of river sand and one of compost. Test the mixture by wet-ting it and clamping a fistful in your hand. Let it dry and if it crumbles when it is dry, then the mixture is suitable. If the mixture contains too much clay, it will form a crust and then the lawn will again become uneven.??Before the top-dressing is applied, the lawn must be well watered. The dressing must be evenly spread and then smoothed by means of a flat board tied to the end of the rake. The top-dressing should not be more than 2 cm.??WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING IN THE GARDEN NOW??Pay special attention to tying up climbing plants and seeing that newly-planted fruit trees and standard roses, also ornamental trees are firmly secured to their stakes. August winds can do much damage. Place a protective band of hessian or tarred paper round tree trunks to prevent the tying material cutting into the bark.??Make a sowing of peas and sow thickly. There is usually heavy mortality caused through mice and birds taking the seed and cutworms attacking the seedlings. A side-dressing of Bexadust along the rows will give much protection.??In warm areas sow seeds of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and vegetable marrow. No protection is necessary. A few seeds sown in small pots under glass will give early plants in colder areas.??Plants can be planted in frames, but make sure the wind does not blow directly on to them. Plants dry out quickly at this time of the year and careful attention must be paid to watering.??Many herbaceous plants are now making their new growth and this is a good time in which to lift and divide them. Replant strong, outside portions only and discard the old, worn-out centre of the crowns.??Hardy annuals such as candytuft, cornflower, clarkia, godetia, Nigella, eschscholtzia, Linum and carnation-flowered poppy may now be sown in the open.??Include a few of the new varieties of bedding plants in your order. It is always interesting to see what they are like and how they will grow in your own garden.??Commence planting gladioli corms in Gauteng, Free State and other winter-frost areas. Plant 10 cm deep and commence spraying with Superspread of Malasol from the time the spears show through the soil.??Many of the climbing annuals may be sown now; these are splendid for quickly covering bare fences in new gardens. Morning Glories and Cobaea scandens are two of the fastest growing kinds.??Divide up clumps of chives, and plant out seedlings, raised last autumn, of all vegetables.??Commence regular sowings of salad crops, just a few at a time for maturing in succession.??Jerusalem artichoke tubers may be planted now. They will grow in almost any soil and make a fine screen for hiding an unsightly fence or outbuilding.??VEGETABLES??The seeds of root crops could go in now, and all the salad crops too, such as rhubarb, asparagus, horseradish and globe artichokes. The latter appreciate a long season of growth so it pays to sow seeds early.

Lowveld and warm frost-free areas??Asparagus?Capsicum (pepper)?Carrot?Cucumber?Dwarf bean?Eggplant (aubergine, brinjal)?Globe artichoke?Jerusalem artichoke (plant tubers)?Melon (all types)?Parsley?Pumpkin?Radish?Runner bean?Swiss chard?Vegetable marrow (all types)