August is a strange month in the garden. The days are in equal length to those in April, but in April plants are awakening from their winter slumbers and putting on new growth, leafy buds are bursting out and the garden is clean and fresh and green and early spring bulbs add colour. In August most of the perennials and annuals are beginning to look a little tired. Flowers are going to seed and trees are looking dull. Most of us don’t have plots large enough to plant for an all-season garden so there may be areas that are now looking neglected and uncared for. August mostly feels like we are heading into Autumn and this month has been no exception.
But I have found six things in the garden this week that are still giving me pleasure and plenty of colour.
- Dahlia ‘Edge of Joy’ – is one of the four 50p tubers that I bought at the end of April. The only one of the four to actually grow and produce flowers. Lots of flowers! One other seemed to be doing OK, but part of it rotted away. I am still hopeful for at least one flower bud. Another the ‘Bishop of Llandaff‘ keeps getting munched by S&S and the fourth didn’t do anything at all, but when I went to throw it away I could see some roots starting so I have left it alone. I won’t bother with Dahlias in the future. Apart from having to protect the young shoots from S&S, the flowers appear to be nibbled by earwigs and tiny black beetles. Although I do admit the amount of flowers this little one has produced is impressive.
- Justicia Carnea Jacobina – or the Brazillian Plume Flower / Flamingo Plant should be an evergreen shrub with a rounded habit (like a hydrangea) and inflorescence of tubular vibrant pink flowers in the summer. Mine has grown too tall and the leaves are falling off all the time so I think I have had it in too much sun. After it finishes flowering I am going to cut it right back to about 10 cm and see what happens. It is a tender plant (from Brazil) so overwinters in the unheated conservatory. And if it survives I may put it in the shady courtyard next summer.
- Less exotic, but equally colourful is my new Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’ which I bought to replace the Penstemon that didn’t re-appear. This bears aromatic foliage, dark stems and masses of rich, dark pink-purple flowers from May to October. I have planted it in a gap in my raised bed at the back of the garden, but this bed will be totally cleared at the end of September and replanted. This Salvia may end up in the bee and butterfly bed. It is a gorgeous colour.
- Two more clematis have appeared in the woodland border. I have no idea what they are called as they are inherited, but the blue one is very nice. They have both been nibbled by earwigs I think. I’m getting a trifle fed-up of all the munchers and nibblers in this garden.
- Another new addition this year are these ‘Rain lilies‘ or Zephyranthes. I was so happy with my spring bulbs in pots that I thought this year I would try a variety of summer flowering bulbs. So far I haven’t had a lot of success, but the bulbs were fairly cheap so nothing lost. These produce colourful starry flowers late in the summer and bloom in response to late season rains. I planted 25 of these bulbs in a fairly shallow round pot and this month about 12 flowers appeared, died and then another six flowered. The flowers don’t last long but they are rather beautiful with a silky, sparkly texture. I will find a place around my large flat rock for them once the grass-like foliage dies down and hope they naturalise and come back next year. They like full sun, but I’m not sure about Cornish rain…
- And finally a plant that I bought late last summer for the Bee and Butterfly bed. Lobelia cardinalis ‘Queen Victoria’ provides stunning spikes of scarlet flowers among beautiful, beetroot-coloured foliage. I wanted something that was late flowering and this began to flower at the beginning of the month. It is planted next to a very dark red Helenium and Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ so together they are quite flashy! The paler Daylily is just about finished.
Overnight it has been very wet and very windy, the trees are being blown back and forth as if they are bowing to royalty, shedding dead leaves as they do and the rest of the plants are nodding violently in the wind, but as far as I can tell there is no real damage done. Not so sure about the tall chilli plants I put outside last week. That might not be the case in other parts of the UK. As always, if you want a peek over other people’s garden walls then please pop over to our host, the lovely Jon, AKA ‘The Propagator’ where you find links to many more wonderful garden enthusiasts from all over the world
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