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  • Writer's pictureJulia Watson

August - Work to Do, Things to Enjoy

Strawflower harvest from our cuttin bed

I wrote a post with this name previously (read it here) because it’s good to remind ourselves that gardening is always work followed by the reward of enjoyment. That’s true of life in general, don’t you think?

Work To Do

  • Weeding and deadheading – tedious stuff, I know, but necessary in summer. Deadheading simply means snipping off the dead flowers so that the plant will make more.

  • Plant some annuals or perennials that will take you into fall. I like cosmos for that purpose, but asters and salvia are also good. Salvia is wonderful for bees, too.

  • Deep watering. We're in a drought, but that's no justification for letting our trees die. Buy a soaker hose and water at night if you want the best conservation, but get some water to the thirstiest trees and shrubs.

  • Now for something fun. Go get a bulb catalog (paper or digital) because we’re going to pick out tulips. I recommend that you do this in August because most places will accommodate you in terms of shipping later and if you don’t order now all the best varieties will be sold out.

  • A word about Photoshop—you do know that they doctor those photos in the nursery catalogues don’t you? They take that ‘Saturation’ control slider and move it all the way up. So don’t be surprised if the tulips you ordered look a little less brilliant in your garden than they did on the glossy page. On the other hand, sometimes the photos don’t do the real colors justice.

  • You don’t really want only the plain old one-color, standard shape tulips do you? So boring. Try the parrots! Try the doubles! Try the lily-flowered types or the broken color varieties, where no two are the same. Try the adorable little species tulips, like Tinka. You won’t be disappointed.

Things To Enjoy

  • Crepe Myrtle. I don’t have one myself, but I can enjoy the ones in my neighborhood. They’re beautiful - the bark as well as the bloom.

  • Dahlias. This is often the peak of bloom. I try to make a big new bouquet twice a week. For variety try growing Briza (rattlesnake grass) and adding it into bouquets.

  • Plumgago. It’s a tough-as-nails shrub, so common here in California that we overlook how beautiful it can be. Stop to enjoy the sky-blue flowers next time you see one.

  • Gardenias. I could never grow these until I tried the variety ‘Frostproof.’ Read about that here. What a winner! It blooms all summer and the fragrance is heaven. I pick the blooms and float them in small bowls or teacups on the bathroom counters. I put a couple more on my nightstand. Then in the middle of the night, half asleep as I turn over in bed, I breathe in that beautiful fragrance, sigh and sink back into dreams.

  • Zinnias. This year I'm only growing about nine varieties. One of the very best is ‘Zowie,’ a bicolor that’s very mildew-resistant. I have several colors of the Oklahoma series, all wonderful but Ivory and Pink are my favorites. I have several colors of 'State Fair and Benary's Giants, also fabulous. I’m sorry to be a killjoy, but I do not like the ‘Queen Lime’ series of zinnias.

A few of our zinnias, including gold and red 'Zowie' in the center.

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