Garden expert Hilary Oakley from Oakley Landscape joins HouseFixer.co.uk for her monthly column on all things green and gorgeous.
My horticulture teachers used to say ‘there's no such thing as a stupid question'. But I'm not so sure.
The other day my husband got terribly excited because he'd seen a lop-sided, six-legged spider two days running in completely different places. I asked him, “Was the spider born that way or did it have an accident?” He gave me a look and replied, “I'll have to ask the next time I bump into it”.
It just shows there’s always some fun to be had in the garden.
Remember to take photos of your garden throughout the seasons, especially during spring and summer. You can then look back at your photos during the winter and see what did work and what didn’t and plan for the following year.
Your garden should still be looking very good at the beginning of the month. Dahlias will be coming into bloom now. Dead head the flowers regularly. To get more flowers cut out the centre bud and leave the other two buds to flower. If left, the dahlia will put all its strength into the main flower.
I love seeing the hibiscus flower. It has such a beautiful flower, making it a shrub well worth planting in the garden. It is very easy to take cuttings. My hibiscus flowers self seed all over the garden.
Anemone X hybrid will start to flower towards the end of August. They are a very useful perennial to have as they flower when the summer perennials and bedding are over or fading. They will also tolerate partial shade.
Cut back lavender after flowering. This helps to keep the shrub from getting leggy. Do not cut into the old wood, just the new soft growth. I always think I’m giving the plant a haircut.
Take cuttings of geraniums, fuchsia and osteospermum and over winter put them in the greenhouse or a window sill. There is also still time to take semi ripe cuttings of shrubs.
In August you can begin to sow hardy annuals directly into the ground for flowering next year. The ground is still warm which will give them a good start.
Sow carrots from now until September at 10 day intervals. Baby carrots will be ready for picking in about four weeks. It is not too late to sow potatoes in containers for Christmas. Look for late cropping potatoes. I find growing potatoes in containers far more interesting than in the ground. You don’t need to use a fancy potato pot if you don’t have one. You can use a black dustbin bag. It’s important that it’s black so the light doesn’t get through. Put compost into the bottom of the bag and place the tuber into the soil and cover and wait for the plant to shoot. As the shoots grow up cover them with more soil until your dustbin bag or container is full and wait for the potatoes to grow. By using this method you will get potatoes all the way down the bag or containers, not just at the bottom.
You can still grow coriander until the end of August. Also don’t forget to grow basil and parsley to see you through the winter.
If you have a pond, remove fades flowers and any dead leaves. If the water levels are dropping due to a lack of rain then top them up.
You can lift and pot up strawberry runners towards the end of the month.
Finally, give the lawn a last summer feed. And mind the spiders, they are your friends.
Hilary runs a garden design and construction company Oakley Landscapes Ltd in London.
She is experienced in garden design and planting, with the business winning numerous awards including the national Marshalls' Best Patio Transformation 2010 and the 2011 regional Best Driveway award.
For more information contact 020 8286 2491 or email Hilary on firstname.lastname@example.org