Garden Clippings: August

August stirs up two completely opposite emotions in my gardening psyche.

| August 2006

  • Iris.jpg
    IRIS: Dividing iris (as well as daylilies) allows room for the plants to grow and produce new shoots, which will yield nice blooms.
    CAPPER'S Photo Library

  • Iris.jpg

First there is despair. The knowledge that some of the plants in the garden that provided a beautiful landscape over the past months will succumb to the hot, dry winds by displaying scorched and tattered foliage is depressing. Hostas and ferns will be the first to suffer, and even frequent watering will not prevent these foliage plants from showing signs of stress.

My container annuals will be the next to display symptoms of the weather. No matter how many times I promise I won't let these mini landscapes get too dry, it always happens - on a hot, windy day in August. I may be able to bring the plants back with a little TLC and fertilizer, but they never regain the gloss and color they previously had.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, there's a sense of joy and accomplishment when you see the tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables crowding the refrigerator, waiting to be canned, juiced or frozen.

Even with all of the problems that may have plagued the vegetable garden in the beginning stages, there always seems to be more produce than one family can consume. This makes me feel as though I've accomplished a lot; it brings joy to be able to give family and friends some of my harvest.

August is not only a time for harvesting from our vegetable gardens, but also from our landscape gardens.

Daylilies and iris can easily be divided, moved and given away during this month. Even though these plants can be moved at almost any time of the year, dividing and moving them now will give you a better chance for good blooms next season. This is because the plants are not expending energy to bloom; instead, they are sending more roots out for next season. This schedule also gives the new divisions time to root well before the frosts of winter try to heave them from the ground.

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