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August

After what seems like months of rain, August should be the month when time spent in the garden is time spent relaxing. The winter soil preparation is complete, the spring planting season has passed and the weed growth is slowing due to the shortening day length and the lack of available ground water (normally!!!). This year has been slightly different so far though, with wet dull days, the newly planted bedding and perennials, just don’t seem to be growing and as for the veg, well, I cant see me getting a bumper crop of Chillies

If you do manage to get out in the garden, a few gentle jobs for this month include dead heading, weeding and a little light trimming. With the last summer bank holiday of the year looming we can sit back, relax and … think of spring!!! “Already?” I hear you yol (yell out loud for those who aren’t up to speed with their text talk), yes, already. Garden centres take delivery of their spring bulb collections this month and to ensure you get the widest choice and freshest stock, you really do need to be thinking about your selections right now.

I know spring doesn’t seem that long ago, but in a way that’s a good thing, because you should be able to remember which areas of the garden would have benefited from a little more colour, sparkle and pizzazz – and in my opinion, that’s what bulbs deliver. The extra colour, height and shape that bulbs such as Alliums and Tulips provide is second to none.

When selecting your bulbs make sure you give them a quick, but delicate squeeze. This will ensure the ones you buy are healthy and will hopefully actually leaf up and flower. I get so many questions about bulbs which are planted and never actually flower, and its not that these people are bad gardeners, but more likely that the bulbs were dead before they were even planted and Snowdrops are particularly prone to drying out.

Plant bulbs from September to November but the sooner the better really, leaving only Tulips until November. Plant 2-3 times the depth of the bulb and if fed after flowering they should give you pleasure for many years to come and may even spread around … as long as you don’t cut off the leaves until 6 weeks after flowering!

Other jobs for the month

• Cut down flowering meadows/areas of wild flowers and allow seed to fall

• Harvest potatoes and dry before storing in the dark

• Harvest onions at the end of the month and dry before hanging

• Trim evergreen hedges such as Yew and conifers

• Collect seed from annuals for next year

Garden of the month

Over the next few months, I’ll be writing about some of the gardens that I visit, both locally and nationally, so if you’ve got a favourite, write in and let me know. This weekend takes me to the Royal Horticultural Societies’ most northerly garden at Harlow Carr near Harrogate. Complete with Betty’s tearoom (to bribe the wife to look at yet another garden) and wonderful plant centre, the gardens are looking great at the moment. Whether you prefer the deep and extremely colourful mixed border, a stroll through the new alpine glasshouse, a riverside walk or to delve into the ‘Gardens Through Time’ to witness the changes in 200 years of garden design, you’re sure to have a wonderful afternoon.