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Something for the Weekend #16

Some of my favourite late summer plants began flowering this week, the salvias, rudbeckia 'Sahara', and finally the zinnias! Stars of the gardens are the nicotiana’s that have gone on and on right through for months. These, along with weeds, opportunists sprung up after the rain, mingle through the gaps covering every patch of soil now.

The dahlias are still bulking up. Plants left in last year are much bigger than those sown this season or saved and repotted from last. Either way, they will all equal out over the next couple of weeks; fingers crossed for 7 or 8 weeks of good flowering into the Autumn. Chrysanthemums and asters are beginning to bud. The summer has been long and hot. It feels strange to 'only' be in August, with still much to come yet perennials and shrubs are plainly tired and ready to rest.

On the cutting list this week are - Nicotiana, my favourite N. langsdorffii 'Bronze Queen' and 'Lemon Tree' which are delicate smoky brown and tiny limey lemon bells. Rudbeckia laciniata 'Kerbstone' is a stalwart here. Looks amazing at the back of a border and with blue skies behind. A shocking yellow, flowers for ages and holds up. But it really is lovely in arrangements especially when the petals drop and the little brown buds work well in between flowers. I tell clients to pull off the petals as they go over. The seed heads of plants in August and September add a dimension to the border and vase that is unmatched at other times of the year. And other plants I'm cutting - Atriplex for branches of seeds again, Nicandra going black in the stem, cosmos, gaura and coreopsis.

Three for the weekend

1. Take Rosemary Cuttings

Sometimes I snip a few inches of non flowering growth, strip off the lower leaves and leave in little jam jars of water to root out before planting. But right now, it is quicker and easier to pop these cuttings in the same way straight into pots of gritty compost. I push them into the sides of a round pot, every inch or so, water and put somewhere sheltered but in bright light and warmth. These will root in the next couple of months. The Rosemary here frames the terrace which is in hot sun most of the day, but still looks good all winter. I never water it and now mature, give it a hard prune in late spring after the frosts. It is a perfect shrub to forget about for a hot sunny spot, supporting grasses and perennials without needing to stake them.

2. Planting out

Since the heavy rains, the nights have been humid and created a lot of dew in the mornings. I'm beginning to plant out anything that has been languishing in pots around the gardens. There were a couple of months where it was going to be better for plants to be sat in trays in a shadier spot than take their chances out in the sandy soil and open beds. Planted now, they have a chance to root into the soil and settle in before the winter.

3. Trim evergreen hedges and shrubs

Done now, plants will retain a beautiful shape over the winter. Blight on box loves moisture and tight air less growth so go for a looser shape. Cut branches from within the plant for a more open plant. Lightly trim the outside. I'm trimming the beech hedges too and collecting the soft trimmings to add to the compost heap.

Love the bustling nature of the gardens at this time of year.

Sunflowers, rudbeckia and nicotiana

Dreamy mornings in hazy dew

Dreamy evenings talking growing flowers, cutting and composting.

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