I like August even better than June or July. I know some people sadly see it as the last month of summer but to me it’s a quiet month. A month for sitting under a tree and reading a new book, and later sitting outside on my deck to watch the stars come out just because the night sky is beautiful this month.
All but the very latest perennials and annuals have come into bloom, most are past peak and have stopped making new growth. We gardeners almost have the month off. With the exception of watering and deadheading, there’s little to do now but harvest veggies and listen to the crickets and tree frogs--even the lawn has slowed down its growth and needs less cutting.
The coneflowers, liatris and cleomes are the stars of my garden this week along with rudbeckia and Russian sage. The Autumn Joy sedum is all budded up and those pansies I told you about that have been on vacation are eager for me to let them start blooming but I’ve been pinching them back.
Wild flowers are adorning the roadsides, empty lots and fields. Queen Anne’s lace is a favorite of mine. This is also a good time to hunt for Monarch butterflies—look for milk weed plants—that weed that everyone seems to hate but butterflies love. When you find a plant, check for caterpillars and adults laying eggs.
I fertilized my roses last weekend and I’m hoping for maybe one or two more flushes of blooms before the end of September. Roses love water—not wet feet—just lots of water, so make sure your roses get a good soaking at least once a week, twice when the weather is really dry. Keep water off the leaves. I water mine in a big circle around them to avoid black spot and mildew.
Newly planted (this year or late last fall) shrubs and trees need to be watered well once a week. Depending on the size of the shrub or tree that’s 2 to 5 gallons of water a week.
Now’s the time to wash out a couple of peanut butter jars, fill them with soapy water and give them to your kids with a popsicle stick. Tell them you’ll give them a penny for every Japanese beetle that they pick or scrape off your plants and drown in the jar. This is so much better than using a chemical spray or a pheromone trap. In fact, the best thing you can do with those expensive traps that attract the beetles is to give them to your neighbor.
I can tell you firsthand that several years of drowning Japanese beetles has drastically reduced the number of grubs in my lawn and beetles on my rose bushes and shrubs without the use of pesticides!