Timely Tasks:

While the warmth of Summer is in full swing, we must turn our attention to tasks awaiting us in the coming cooler months (at least for those in the northern hemisphere). With a little preparation, planning, and pruning, you won’t be caught unprepared when the gentler weather leaves us. I hope to share a few tasks that you can begin this month, so no panic is needed in Autumn.

Continue deadheading:

Many flowers this time of year can begin to fade. However, they can be persuaded to persist well into summer. I often carry a good pair of secateurs around the garden with me for just this purpose (like these – it pays to go for quality; your tools should last a lifetime!). Remember, always to to something; prune with purpose! Cut to the next set of leaves or bud to ensure your plant will continue producing blooms. Dahlias are a great example of a plant that can be persuaded in this way. Even now, I have dahlias burgeoning with blooms on my patio.

Water:

Many flowering shrubs, such as camellias, rhododendrons, and azaleas begin to form next year’s blooms during this time of year. Don’t let them go thirsty! Ensuring that they have consistent watering will assist with an explosive display next spring. However, keep in mind that your specific climate will dictate how you treat your plants. We have recently experienced flooding in Kentucky and I wouldn’t dream of watering anything!

Trim hedges:

Giving your hedges a trim this time of year will help them hold their shape through the rest of the year. It is best to wait until this time of year to perform this task because nesting birds have largely finished rearing their young. Now is also a good time to take cuttings from various hedges (e.g., I will be taking cuttings from my boxwoods in the next few weeks). Make sure to use a nice pair of sharp shears or hedge trimmers (I’ve enjoyed these). I keep a bucket of soapy water on hand to occasionally sanitize my trimmer. This helps to prevent the spread of disease between plants.

Transplant perennials:

This time of year is a good time to transplant perennials. By moving them now, you can better select their best positions in the garden. This can help you to identify and fill in the gaps. However, I would wait until the temperature has cooled in your area. We are regularly reaching temperatures in the 90s F, so I will be waiting to complete this task in the next month or two.

Gather seeds:

Begin looking at what plants in the garden are producing seeds. Always wait until the seeds are completely dry before collecting. I typically use a paper envelope to store my seeds, making sure to carefully label them. As much as we would like to believe it, you will never remember what is in that envelope (I am guilty of this myself). Store your seed envelopes in a dark and dry place (e.g., drawer, cupboard, closet, etc.). I have encountered the myth that seeds must be stored in the freezer. However, not all seeds require this type of cold stratification (I can do a later article on this process) and if there is any degree of moisture in those seeds, it will result in 0% germination. It is better to leave these methods for later when you’ve developed some confidence with basic seed storage.

Order bulbs!

Many spring flowering bulbs (e.g. daffodils, tulips) need to be planted in the next few months. While there is no rush to get this task done, now is a good time to order bulbs so that they are available at the proper time. Keep in mind that most bulbs like good drainage and do not like sitting in soggy soil over winter. Check your local growing zone for appropriate planting times.

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