With Aileen Acheson
August is dahlia month. Remember they need staking. Trying to raise a dahlia with a lot of heavy foliage and succulent stems from the horizontal to the vertical is a horrible job. And one rarely successful. You will hear a snap and be left with a lot of cut flowers.
Vaseline the stems well and if you have them in tubs or window boxes Vaseline the outsides of these too. This stops the ear wigs in their tracks a bit. If your phlox is showing signs of mildew it may revive if you water it well. Cans of water sloshed round it are more effective than sprinkling. Get the roots well wet.
The stems of lavatera need shortening towards the end of the month. Then again in spring another trim. This makes for sturdy stems able for the wind.
Plant Russian sage ‘Blue Spire’ in full sun. They like rocky, open places, where they will be baked, like in their natural habitat, Afghanistan. If you want a cool looking spot in your garden in this dusty looking month, plant Itea Ilicifolia. Glossy dark green leaves, with prickles. Tiny lime green flowers, fragrant but a big shrub. It needs a bit of space.
At the seaside recently I saw the loveliest thrift sea pinks in bloom. Laburnums were growing within a few feet of a sea wall. No sign of wind damage to their leaves, mind you. Roses were marvellous, very healthy looking, campanula seeding into the walls and alyssum was romping everywhere.
Globe thistles in light blue abounded in several gardens. A jewel of a sea holly, about three feet tall, in shimmering, silvery blue was growing in sandy soil, in a very sunny spot. I don’t think it would do well in any other type of soil or in shade.
If you want a few extra cut flowers in your August garden, plant Achillea Summer berries. This perennial is easy enough to grow from seed and usually flowers the first year. It will put up with dry conditions and flowers for months usually.