There are many many wonderful blogs and articles and books about what to do by season and I reccomend you read one on a regular basis until you get into the swing of your own plots vagaries. In my gardening life I find I try to do too much on a regular basis, organised chaos would be a charming way to describe it but really it’s more of a white knuckle ride, balancing on a tea tray, in the biggest of swells heading up the Banzai Pipeline much of the time. I have honed my schedules to what MUST be done each month, to ensure the most flowers, the best produce and sometimes the least work to come. One has to decide ones priorites in gardening as with anything. If you want no weeds that must be your driver, if you want maximum produce that can be the driver and so on, having two masters unless they are leashed together can be the devil’s work as neither truly gets the attention is requies. So I stick to my organised chaos approach for maximum output with minimum input. I have a relatively high tolerance for some weeds and some chaos, this is also true at home as well as on the growing plots!
SO MUST do’s this month.
As a collector I am bound by this not least as a way to keep the 100 or so cultivars in my charge healthy and blooming. The smaller species, MTB’s need division on a 3 year ly basis unless they have plenty of room to spread themselves out and not crash into other plants. TB’s and IB/BB seem to cope with 4 or even 5 year divisions and still give a good head of flowers. Through trial and error I have found division in the later part of August to be the best, it reduces the amount of aftercare required, it gives the plant a good 4-6 weeks of warmish soil to put their rooty toes down before winter dormancy bites. and it gives me time to press extra divisions on unsuspecting frinds, clients and colleagues!
I have divided successfully as late as end October and as early as early July, Iris are on the whole bullish little things and though they may sulk a bit if moved out of season, they tend to grow on once replanted and will eventually perform splendidly with very little coaxing.
Knowing ‘how to’ is of course key and more details can be found in this post.
This year I may even VLOG some of the various division techniques!
Now this might seem like an odd task that must be done but after all the growing effort you want to make the producing phase last as long as possible. A plants nature on the whole is to grow, flower, set seed and die. Annuals do this on, well on an annual basis, perennials tend to take longer about the final stages, repeating the flower/set seed element freely until expiration and some trees can take centuries to get to the point of fruiting, bear fruit/seed for decades, even centuries and then die. Grasses I have noticed, in a very unscientific manner, tend to set a relatively HUGE number of seeds when they are about to die back, making the likelihood of continuation much keener.
The moral being you and your flowering/fruiting plant are in a dance. They tyring to get through the ‘fruit/seed’ to ‘go dormant/die’ phase, and you to keep them producing the fruit, flowers for as long as possible, and so on. The addage ‘the more you cut the more you get’ applies here. Keep cutting flowers and picking produce in a frequent rotation weekly or even daily to encourage the plant to keep producing for you.
I am known to use a bribe system here, by feeding and watering plants that are producing well for me, fueling them to produce good things.
This is more along the lines of’ last chance saloon’ and therefore MUST do. Some of the more well behaved evergreens that are good for topiary and hedging only need a single cut a year (Taxus baccata), some need more (Lonicera nitida). I was taught April and August for clipping and pruning such sculptural pieces and I have stuck to that after failures at other times. Clipped in August a plant has some warmth and growing left in it before Autumn and winter hit, giving it time to put forth a flush of foliage and have that harden off before winter bites and scars it. Don’t cut too harshly at this time, a nip and tuck, a light trim is all that is needed, Deep cuts? well those reshapes and cuts are for spring when the plant has a whole summer to recover it’s glamour.