August in the Middlesized Garden – my garden failures and successes

Posted By: Alexandra Campbell On: August 12th, 2018 In: Garden style & living, Garden trends & design, Town gardens

August in the Middlesized Garden is a bit of a mixed bag.

August has been called ‘the Sunday of summer’, and there’s a lazy, idle feeling about the garden at the moment, which I will show you in video.

The highs and lows of  the dahlias

The dahlias are out, but they are not the brilliant display of colour that I usually see in August in the Middlesized Garden. For the first time, there are significant gaps.

I don’t dig up my dahlias. I cut off the foliage and cover with a big pile of mulch. Last winter was very harsh (remember The Beast from the East?).  And I was too busy to finish the job. I piled mulch on about half my dahlias. They survived.

Dahlia Rip City in the Middlesized Garden

Dahlia ‘Rip City’. I mulched about half my dahlias last October. They survived the harsh winter. The half I didn’t mulch have died. Oh, well, a gap in a garden can be quite exciting.

The dahlias I failed to mulch have died. At least it proves that mulching helps your dahlias survive. Read this if you don’t want to dig your dahlias up for winter or watch this, if you prefer finding out how not to dig up your dahlias in video.

And I cut lavender ‘into the brown’

When I first grew lavender in this garden, it quickly got straggly. Why couldn’t I have neat tailored mounds like I saw in professional gardens?

Lavender cut 'into the brown' in 2017

Lavender cut ‘into the brown’ in The Middlesized Garden in 2017. You have to look close up (closer than this photo permits!) to see the tiny grey lavender buds, some of which are very low down.

Once I asked professionals about it, I discovered that ‘don’t cut your lavender down into the brown wood’ doesn’t mean ‘be very cautious when you prune your lavender.’ You can, in fact, cut back quite hard provided you leave lots of tiny buds lower down.  Now our pruned lavender looks neat, sculptural, and really quite ‘brown’ in places.

Here’s the best way to prune English lavender (video) or if you’d rather read about it, here’s the post here on how to prune your lavender.

Lavender in the Middlesized Garden 2018

Exactly the same clump of lavender in the Middlesized Garden in 2018.

Last year, we didn’t cut the lavender back until September, but we cut it back hard. This year, we’ve cut it back at the beginning of August, as soon as the flowers turned grey and the pollinators went elsewhere.

The ‘white bed’ is pink

I’ve put considerable effort into creating a ‘white bed.’ I did see some white in it this month – it was a bindweed flower that had crept up to strangle something. Otherwise the pink Japanese anemones that I’ve tried to dig up twice are dominating the scene.

Japanese anemones flourish in August in the Middlesized Garden

Japanese anemone or Anemone x hybrida. It dominates the ‘white bed’ during August in the Middlesized Garden. Don’t let its delicately pretty looks fool you, this is a Sherman tank of a plant.

But do have a longer stroll around the garden in the August in the Middlesized Garden video. We will be taking a short break and normal posts on the Middlesized Garden will be back on 2nd September. Have a wonderful August, and do join us on the Middlesized Garden YouTube channel, where we will still be uploading every Saturday.

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8 comments on "August in the Middlesized Garden – my garden failures and successes"

  1. I am so relieved to hear your dahlias haven’t performed as well this year (ok that sounds wrong…) because mine haven’t either, in the garden or allotment. I’m putting it down to the heatwave or specifically the drought which began just as they started into growth. I thought they’d love the sunshine but they just haven’t – on the whole – produced the strong plants as usual. That said, in the last week they seem to noticeably be perking up so hopefully we’ll all have an end of summer hurrah yet.

    1. Since I wrote this post several people have agreed their dahlias aren’t as good as usual, so I think the drought must be a factor, as well as my forgetting to mulch the poor unfortunate plants that had to endure The Beast from The East.

  2. Nick says:

    I love this post. My garden in summer 2016 & 2017 was wonderful and close the the plan in my head. However, this year after our long cold winter (I’m nearly as far east as one can get and the Beast from the East stomped over us here), the 10 day spring, then weeks of endless sunshine, temps in the 90s and until this week no useful rain since the middle of May, most days I have wandered around the plot sighing at the brown & shrivelled things, the things that never grew (yay a space!) and the “Bloody hell, how did that become a monster?”. Add to that, after a little rain here come the weeds.

    It’s so nice to hear another fellow creator doing similar things. I have been doing a radical chop back of things, with a feed and water, in the vain hope that come September there will be a beautiful display.

    Doing drastic cut backs in August is anathema to me, as the garden is often at it’s laid back best right now.

    1. I hope it all works out – I’m being pretty ruthless with chopping at the moment in the hope of one last burst of glory before everything collapses into its winter heap.

  3. Sue says:

    Glad it’s not just me Alexandra. Dahlias here (Cumbria) are just slug food so I cannot grow them well. My August saviours are penstemmons and hydrangeas whichever done well despite the drought. But ever since they announced a potential hosepipe ban it has rained for 3 weeks!Garden looks better for it though. Enjoy your break. Kind regards, Sue

    1. I do have a photo of a slug dangling shamelessly from a dahlia petal, so we have them here too, but I think we are a little drier than you are, which just about gives the dahlias a chance.

  4. Michael Gallagher says:

    Great to hear about real gardens…ie one with errors and disappointments.

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