August is one of the main month where every gardener can reap the fruits of the hard labour from the past seven month. Wherever you go or look there is always something to pick or to scent or to take pictures of. Its a lovely time of the year and for once you think you did everything to ensure the season is going well. A recent comment on trip adviser from a visitor made our day; our garden was classified as “the best place in Ireland”! Well, I am not sure about the ‘whole of Ireland’ but it definitely is a great praise to get! I also think that, for once we are lucky with the weather here in Connemara. Mixed days between sunshine and light rain are not the worst and have their benefits. Much better then the boiling heat wave in Spain, France and Portugal.
Pic1 Summer display in the Parterre with Antirrhinum ‘Brighton Rock’ to the front
Pic2 Maroon Cannas, blue Lobelias, red Salvias and white Lavateras – a very typical Victorian summer bedding scheme
Few of our subtropical plants like Hedychium (Ginger Lily), Agapanthus (African Lily) or Eucomis bicolour (Pineapple Lily) are on its high at the moment and bring a bit of a tropical feeling into our garden. Since our climate here at the Atlantic coast line is mild during the winter all of these plants can be left outside. This gives the advantage that the roots of the plants can establish much better when left in suit.
Pic3 Eucomis bicolour – Ginger Lily
Pic4 Agapanthus africanus – African Lily
Our weekly Vegetable sale is going well, all ‘British Queen’ potatoes were harvested and sold the following day; a lovely floury variety most people would know around here. The Cabbages and Kales are nearly fully grown, a homemade feed of liquid Comfrey brew will make the newly planted spring cabbages jump. You need to have strong nerves or a peg on your nose when spreading this liquid fertilizer but at least its natural and it works!
Pic5 Potatoes ‘British Queens’ ready for sale
Pic6 Brassica plot with a mixture of Cabbages and Kales
Pic7 The first of the Courgettes and Marrows are ready
Another old Heritage Vegetable which is hardly known around here is the Asparagus pea. A very unusual looking plant which belongs to the legume family. It has lovely red flowers and the frilled seed pods, which taste like a mix of Asparagus and Peas are crunchy in salads and even treated as gourmet food nowadays. A heritage vegetable with a strong comeback, easy to grow from seed!
Pic8 Asparagus Pea
One of our hidden corners in the garden is situated at the top of the garden in our Rockery. Its a lovely stone seat, nestled in between the natural lime stone area. I remember planting up the rockery many years ago (15?) with all types of different plants; it took quite a long time to fully cover this rather difficult planting area. The mix between alkaline and acid soil pockets created one problem, another one was the combination of very dry and very wet areas. Typical Rockery plants did not do well and it took few trials and errors to overcome this challenge. Below is a picture of one successful plant, Erigeron karvinskianus.
Pic9 The stone seat in the Rockery
Below the usual monthly tips, enjoy the rest of the summer season!
Your Head Gardener
Things you can do in your garden in August:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Start to sow spring bedding for next year like Bellis, Forgetmenots, Stocks
~ Take cuttings of non flowering shoots of Fuchsia, Pelargonium and Hydrangea
~ Last sowings of overwintering crops like leaf beet, beetroot, mizuna
~ Plant out more catch crops like lettuce and spring onion
~ Plant out shrubs or perennials left in pots
~ Onions, Garlic
~ Courgettes and Marrows
~ Last of Potatoes
~ Lettuce, Spinach, Leaf beet, Cabbage, Kale
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Dead head summer bedding and herbaceous plants once a week
~ Cut back bolting vegetables like Spinach, Leaf beet, Kales etc.
~ Prune summer fruiting raspberries (cut out this year’s fruiting stems, leave new shoots)
~ Summer pruning of apples and pears, especially wall fruits
~ Pruning of Plums and Cherries (Don’t prune in winter to avoid silver leaf disease)
~ Clear first leaves of lawns and paths