Changing of the Garden - What happens in August
As the nights begin to cool flowers begin to change.Some flourish in the cool nights, others begin to die off as autumn approaches.It’s hard to tell which flowers will do what but watching them carefully will give you a clue.
For example, autumn sedum also called autumn joy begins to come into its own.The big green flower heads that have formed now begin to turn pink getting ready for their autumn glory.As the days go by the pink begins to deepen until they turn a dark maroon.You can almost see them changing daily, depending on the weather. This is the time to check your small garden ideas and designs to see what fall work needs to be done.
Tips for Portulaca
Some gardening tips are always in order. I never trim my portulaca in the summer but I found trimming them at this time of year helps give them a boost for one last flowering.Of course trimming them or pinching them back during the summer months gives you a more tidy plant.When you trim them for your last bloom, you have to be careful not to cut off any new growth or tiny buds that may be forming.Even though they tolerate heat and drought they can still re-bloom now.I was amazed at this last volley, they looked so pretty.Plenty of sun is still the rule.
Impatiens, Marigolds and Echinacea
Impatiens and marigolds continue to bloom but Echinacea is starting to show its age. If your impatiens are growing in pots you can bring them indoors for the winter. Before you do cut them back one third and keep them in a sunny window over the winter. Marigolds bask in the cooler weather and will be the last blooming flowers in your garden bringing their sunny color well into fall.
You have two choices with Echinacea.You can continue to cut off the dead flowers, without a re-bloom at this time of year, or you can leave the dead flowers and let them go to seed.Though this may not be attractive in your flower garden, the birds will thank you for it.I’ve seen several different kinds of birds heading for the seeds that used to be flowers! You can gather your garden seeds to replant next year as well. Marigolds are always leaving seeds. Just remember to collect them and let them dry to plant next year.
Hibiscus continue to bloom but at a slower rate.There aren’t as many flowers forming but there are still buds waiting to bloom and those beautiful flowers will continue to open.
Even though hibiscus shed their dead flowers now is a good time to remove dead blooms by hand. It gives more sun to the new buds. If your hibiscus is the “hardy” variety they should continue to bloom right up until the first frost, especially the red dinner plate variety.
If you want to divide your hibiscus fall is the best time. Many gardeners also trim them back in fall and/or cut off dead wood.
Black-eyed Susan and Catmint
Black-eyed Susans still have flowers but they are starting to look a little sad.Removing dead flowers does nothing beneficial to the plant itself but it does keep your garden looking a little tidier.They will continue to bloom into the fall.Strangely the blossoms on the butterfly bush are larger than they were.Not sure if it’s the cool nights.It continues to bloom as long as I continue to cut off the dead blooms and should continue into the fall.I gave my catmint a good pruning.There are still flowers blooming on it but it was just way too leggy.Left alone catmint can grow from 24” to 36” tall!The fake sunflowers that have been blooming prolifically through the end of July are starting to slowly die out as well.There are a few new blooms here and there but for the most part I think they’re doing their swan song.
Sweet William, and keeping Hydrangea blue
Surprisingly, Sweet William is re-blooming in the sunniest areas of my garden.Not surprisingly, Spiderwort is also making a comeback.Impatiens continue to bloom and flourish though they will begin to show their age pretty soon now.To my true wonder, one last hydrangea has shown up on the bush.A pretty little thing.I love blue hydrangea so I had to add aluminum sulfate to my soil.It took me years to learn this.I bought blue hydrangea plants but the following year they would come up pink!I then learned it was my good old sandy soil and its high ph.I add aluminum sulfate in early spring.Though mine are not planted near my foundation, I understand planting them near a foundation will cause the lime from the foundation to leech into the plant and prevent them hydrangeas from turning blue.If your soil is really stubborn, which for some reason mine is not, you may have to add the aluminum sulfate during the growing season as well. I am absolutely amazed I do not have to add it more than once.What really drives me crazy is New Jersey!My daughter lives in Jersey and when we go to visit the hydrangea there are so blue they’re almost purple, and it is everywhere.Evidently the soil in her part of Jersey has a very low ph.
Roses, Cosmos, and Russian Sage
The roses go on and on as they do every year, remember from my other hubs I have rose bushes with small little roses.Cosmos continues on for another few weeks though the plant is huge and top heavy at this time.Russian sage is still going strong.After doing some research I found that Russian Sage is very cold hardy. Oh, did I mention it is deer resistant as well?It’s a great plant to substitute for lavender if you can’t grow lavender.
Tomatoes! If you have them in your garden, now is the time for tomatoes.They are usually turning red all at one time or many per day.Also, if you have holly, now is the time the berries begin to turn red for that wonderful winter look and morning glories are still flourishing.I am truly amused by my morning glories.In our climate morning glories are supposed to be annuals but I haven’t re-planted mine in over ten years.Not only do they continue to come back on their own, but they’re almost like weeds, showing up in the strangest places in my garden. I’ve had to pull them out in several places because they were killing other flowers!
As the weather gets colder
Here in the Northeast the days are still warm, sometimes reaching 85 degrees, but the nights can sometimes go down to 50!It really is nearing the end of the growing season and it signals time to clean up your garden and prepare for winter and if you want spring flowering bulbs now is the time to plant them, well actually I would wait till the end of September for that.It’s also a great time to fertilize your lawn because grass stores the fertilizer in the winter; it’s also a good time to plant new grass.
As the weather gets colder and more plants start dying out it’s a good idea to remove the dead plants and of course any wayward weeds.Where we are it is necessary to mulch woody plants like my hibiscus and rose bushes to prevent winter damage.It’s not a bad idea to turn your soil over to let your mulch do its job and prepare your soil for next spring’s mulch.Leave pruning till the spring so you don’t damage any buds that may be forming.Most lawn and garden sites will also tell you it’s a good time to clean your garden tools so they are ready for spring.Getting ready for winter is easier than getting ready for spring.
If you have plants, like holly, that will provide you with some winter interest, enjoy!
Fall Garden Clean Up
More Flower PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
You might also want to read:
- Changing of the Garden Part I
Every month brings garden changes. August is no different...what happens to the garden in August?
"Christopher explores a great many plants besides the usual mums and asters. ... This book opens our eyes to the possibilities of a bounteous garden all the way to Thanksgiving."
—Valerie Easton, Seattle Times, October 1, 2006 (Seattle Times )