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GARDENING IN AUGUST 2008
BY PAM PICKARD
Jobs for this month
Propagate by cleanly cutting a 10-15cm healthy shoot at a leaf joint, trim off new growth at tip, remove lower leaves and dip in hormone rooting powder and place in compost, water and cover with polythene to encourage roots. Try cuttings from; Fuchsia, Forsythia, Penstemon, Verbena, Cistus, Hebe, Honeysuckle and Hydrangea.
Place your orders for spring bulbs and vegetables such as onions and garlic. Continue to deadhead and feed pots and hanging baskets. Remove dead leaves from under bergenias; they’re a good hiding place for slugs! Pull off suckers on roses rather than cut them, this reduces recurrence and trim lavender back to new growth being careful not to cut into old wood. Keep compost heaps damp in hot weather and top up ponds and birdbaths.
Make sure the greenhouse is well ventilated, feed tomatoes regularly and pinch out side shoots, when picking your crop keep the stalks on to keep fresher. Make the most of herbs; dry bay leaves by hanging them, other herbs can be dried by placing them on fine net stretched over a frame and placed in an airing cupboard. Add crushed basil to a jar of olive oil, leave on a sunny windowsill and shake every other day, after 2 weeks strain and discard leaves, use the oil to flavour dishes.
It’s a busy time harvesting in the vegetable garden; gently lift and twist fruit such as apples, pears and plums keeping the stalk intact. Lift onions when the leaves are brown and garlic and shallots when the leaves are yellow; dry outside if the sun is shining. Pick beans and peas at least twice a week or they’ll stop cropping. Remove weak twiggy growth and dead branches from plum and damson trees and treat cuts with wound paint to keep out disease. In late August prune fruit trees by cutting back one year old growth to 3 – 5 buds from the main framework; remove some of the foliage to slow down the vigour of growth.
Common pests and problems
It’s hardly surprising to find that some plants if eaten are toxic and include; Autumn Crocus Colchicum, Cherry Laurel and Oleander causing a burning in the mouth and throat, stomach upset and may result in more severe symptoms such as vomiting, rapid pulse and fits. The seeds inside the berries of Yew will cause heart and respiratory problems. The berries of Arum Lily or Lords and Ladies are poisonous, the seeds of the Laburnum and the flowers and seeds of the Lily of the Valley may result in inflammation of the lips, mouth and tongue if eaten.
Plants that can cause dermatitis or skin irritations as well as being toxic if eaten include; Monkshood, Daphne, the young leaves and berries of the Ivy, Lantana and Spurge or Euphorbia; skin can become inflamed and itchy and in some cases may blister.
Rue should always be handled with gloves; if handled in bright sunlight can cause a severe phototoxic reaction creating painful skin blisters which may last for weeks. All parts of the Foxglove including the smoke from burning its foliage can cause nausea, headache and a slow irregular pulse if eaten and handling Helleborus for a period of time can cause numbing in the fingers and if eaten will cause a stomach upset.
In the event of suspected poisoning; seek medical help, do not make the individual sick, wash skin and eyes with clean water and protect from sunlight and take a sample of the plant with you to the GP or hospital. Information supplied by the National Poisons Unit and Royal Botanic gardens, Kew.
Things to do
Bridgemere Garden World, Near Nantwich www.bridgemere.co.uk
Ness Botanic Gardens, Ness Neston CH64 4AY 64 acres include national collection of Sorbus Mountain Ash trees. www.nessgardens.org.uk
Arley Hall and Gardens, Northwich, CW9 6NA recently voted in Britain’s top ten. www.arleyhallandgardens.com
Cholmondeley Castle Gardens, Enchanting temple garden and lake and silver garden. 9th & 10th August Pageant of Power event. Monday 25th August – Jazz in the Temple Garden
Eaton Hall Gardens, Chester www.eeo.co.uk open day 24th August
All products mentioned are available at most garden centres and DIY stores. The column in September will profile ornamental grasses whilst places to go will focus on Yorkshire. Happy Gardening!
If you run a local gardening group or society, please let us know.
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