Unwins August Newsletter from RHS Flower Show Tatton Park
Once August arrives most gardeners can take a few days of well earned rest and relaxation. It’s the month of Bank Holidays and Village fun days, not to mention summer holidays!
Of course there will still be watering, mowing and harvesting to do, but this is the month to enjoy the fruits of our labours.
Billed as The Great Garden Carnival, The Tatton Park Show always ends July in style and heralds in August. If you went to the show we know you will have enjoyed your day. If not then sit back, enjoy our show round up and share the ideas and inspiration we took from our visit.
If like us you’ve been watching the coverage on TV, the show echoes many of August’s themes; i.e. Al fresco living and dining, harvesting fresh, home grown fruit and vegetables and of course keeping the kids amused and interest
Whatever you do this month, take time out to enjoy your garden.
At RHS Tatton Park
Many of the gardens at the show celebrated outdoor living, and they all looked inviting, especially on a hot summer day with a cool drink! But some of our absolute favourites were those that made use of tiny, tucked away spaces such as this one in the Industrial Transitions garden.
Another garden with plenty of seating was contemporary multi-storey garden: The Sky’s the Limit. It was one of three gardens vying for the Title of Young Designer of the Year 2014 and it won the judges approval with a gold medal. The two other young finalists created interesting gardens that included space for daily activities, such as exercising in the aptly named WorkOUT garden, and sun worshipping in the hot themed Prehistoric Modernism.
Ideas to copy
Whatever the size of your garden, plan it to suit your lifestyle. If you love to eat outside, plan an area where you can put a table and chairs; it doesn’t need to be a huge space, just somewhere to relax with a cuppa on a warm day will add to the pleasure of your garden.
Choose a sheltered spot and create some privacy with trellis and arches or use living screens of climbing plants. Our Marberry wooden planters come ready assembled and the obelisk planter even has an integral support There are plenty of climbers such as clematis and jasmines or roses; and annual climbers such as rhodochiton. There is even a thornless rose; Zephirine Drouhin perfect to frame a seating area without worrying about thorns where space is tight.
But if you’d rather bask in wall to wall sunshine choose plants that also love the sun such as grasses and lavenders, alliums and verbena bonariensis.
If you’ve just moved in to a new house or have a garden that needs redefining don’t rush into creating it until you’ve decided on how you use your garden and what you’d like in it, Will it be a flat lawn for the kids to enjoy or a wildflower grassy maize? Lots of bee friendly flowers? Or a water feature that will attract even more varied wildlife? Room for veggies or a traditional flower garden? All of these ideas are fun to explore and shows such as Tatton Park can be rich sources of inspiration.
Growing your own
The Forgotten Corner show garden, was sponsored by the Salvation Army, and it showed how even unpromising spaces in the garden can be attractive and productive. All the fruit and veg were in raised beds.
Not everyone has room for a dedicated veg plot but growing at least some of your own food makes a lot of sense, especially while food prices are high. Allotments are thriving and this was evident with the variety of Great British Allotment Gardens on show. Hyndburn (Accrington) Federation of Allotments and the Stockport Five-a-Day Rainbow Plot plus Pennard Plants’ Garden of Edible Delights showed the different styles that could be achieved with edible plants. A Taste of Wythenshawe demonstrated that healthy eating is possible for everyone, and it had some innovative and creative ways to grow your own food.
The living wall of salads and herbs was amazing, In fact when we visited the garden there were BBC cameramen everywhere, capturing the planting for TV.
Ideas to copy
Shoehorn veg in wherever you can, salads will grow almost anywhere and they don’t need full sun to grow well. In fact many leafy plants prefer a partly shaded site. They won’t go to seed so quickly in cooler, shadier parts of the garden. Oriental salad leaves can be sown now for crisp, crunchy leaves.
Grow vegetables such as marrows, courgettes and sweet corn in large containers. These can be moved onto sunny patios so you won’t need to use up valuable space in the borders. Sweet corn plants are impressive and they can make very decorative screening plants as well as giving you tasty, great value vegetables!
Wherever you put the vegetables, make sure they are easy to water. Most vegetables need a regular daily soak to give the best, most flavoursome results.
One of the nicest aspects of the Tatton Park show is always its displays of traditional planting. From glorious herbaceous borders with roses and perennials to immaculate bedding displays and well organised vegetable plots. Perennials planted now will establish fast and give lots of early flowers for next summer.
The Narrows combined all of these elements in one fantasticgarden andshowed how a typical, long and narrow suburban garden could be filled with flowers and space for vegetables yet designed to allow everyone in the family a different space to enjoy; it even included some vertically planted growing walls. The multi functional spaces in My Garden even incorporated somewhere to put the bins, and even with them on display the garden still looked stylish and exciting.
Perfect planting was everywhere in The Water Garden ,if you hankered for a traditional water feature filled with pond plants it was right on target but this garden would inspire even the most reluctant water gardener!
Ideas to copy
Garden fashion and styles come and go but while we may want to be ‘cutting edge’, most gardeners have very traditional plots to work with, so copy the designers’ ideas and use beautiful planting combined with great design.
One way to get a traditional plot looking like a show garden is to break up the space into manageable sections especially if you cut across the garden rather than lengthways. This stops the common mistake of making a long narrow space look even narrower.
Make flowerbeds as wide as possible; a skinny strip of earth is hard to plant and always looks ‘mean’ while wider flower beds help to make the garden look bigger.
Because ‘arrow-straight’ paths imply speed, and encourage you to rush through the garden instead of stopping to enjoy the space, let a path meander down, or even across, a garden.
It will make the whole space appear larger.
Plant the flowers and plants you love and the garden will immediately be unique to you. Whether your gardening dream is for a garden of roses or a brilliant water garden, just do it, you’ll never regret making a garden!
Get Children Involved
Children often come to gardening through their grandparents, lets face it grandmas and granddads may have more time to make mud pies and most can turn even weeding and watering into fun! Making Sense was a child friendly, sensory garden at Tatton with lots of salvaged and recycled materials used in its construction. The camomile lawn, vegetable garden, quirky seating and recycled waterfall made it a space that children of all ages would enjoy.
The RHS Schools Gardens and Children’s Container Competition at Tatton were also creative and inventive; and showed just how imaginative young gardeners can be.
Show garden Life is a Garden Path, lived up to its name with intriguing footprints set in the path; just think how much fun children and grandparents could have copying this idea! Though it might get a bit messy...
Ideas to copy
You don’t have to be an expert gardener to pass on a love of horticulture, just by making gardening interesting and fun you’ll encourage most children to enjoy messing about in the garden. Get them involved in interesting summer holiday projects to help nurture their creativity; and sow some fast germinating seeds such as salads, radishes and nasturtiums. Our Gro-Sure and Little Growers seed ranges are great for kids.
Making scare crows and painting pots are always popular holiday pastimes.
Budding botanists may want to press flowers or take pictures, and young biologists can keep a log of the wildlife, moths and butterflies that visit a plot.
Make your own ‘Footprint’ path with a foot or handprint set into a tile is fun to do and a lasting memory for the garden.
Planting a herb garden or sowing salads is well within even young children’s' capabilities while older children might like to try planting a thyme or camomile lawn.
Recycling old and found objects into DIY sculptures can become a lesson in Design Technology, right there in your own back garden.
August in the Garden
Pick, and plan ahead
August is one of the most productive months of the year if you grow your own food. Soft fruit such as strawberries, blackcurrants and raspberries are ripe; and vegetables are ready to pick. Salad crops are yielding plenty of leaves, plus there are roots such as beetroot and radishes to unearth, and lots of fresh herbs.
Garlic, onions, potatoes and runner beans are cropping, and courgettes are getting into their stride too, in fact you could easily come home from an August holiday to find those baby courgettes have turned into marrow-sized fruits!
If you know you’re going to be away when plants are cropping try to arrange for a family member or neighbour to pick crops such as beans, courgettes and tomatoes. Sweet peas also need regular picking to keep them flowering because once those seed pods form, these annual plants think their job is done and flowering reduces drastically.
Keeping a vegetable garden productive is important, however small the plot, so while you’re enjoying the harvest of home grown food, take some time to plan your next crops.
To keep the veggies going for as long as possible, order some winter and spring cropping brassica plants such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. These can all be planted in August to give you fresh green vegetables from autumn to winter.
Salads and Oriental vegetables can all be sown now for a fast maturing crop, just remember to keep watering the seedlings in dry spells.
Order onions, shallots and garlic, and grow some potatoes in pots for a Christmas treat!
Buy Spring Bulbs
It might seem odd to think about spring and summer-flowering bulbs now, in the height of summer, but if you are going to enjoy a brilliant display of spring bulbs such as crocuses, daffodils and tulips you need to order them NOW!
Look online at www.unwins.co.uk for a huge range of spring flowering bulbs; everything from snowdrops and crocuses, daffodils, fritillaries and tulips, plus lots of woodland bulbs; or choose summer flowering bulbs such as alliums, irises and lilies. Decide on your favourites and order as soon as possible because our most popular varieties sell out very quickly.
Once ordered your bulbs will be delivered at the right time to plant. Early autumn is ideal for planting crocuses, daffodils, (Narcissus) and tall, showy Crown imperials (fritillaria imperialis).
Tulips need to be ordered now but you can wait as late as November and even December to plant these lovely bulbs; and once safe in the soil they’re not damaged by cold, in fact to flower really well, tulips need a period of cold.
Keep on top of important jobs
August is often a month of extremes, hot sunshine and sharp showers can arrive within hours of each other, so watering and staking are two jobs that can’t be ignored this month.
Regular watering is essential in hot summer weather, but if there is a prolonged hot spell it’s good to prioritise and give water to the plants that need it most.
Water your containers twice a day if necessary, and make sure the water goes right to the plant roots not just the leaves.
Once containers have been watered, give priority to any newly planted shrubs, annuals and perennials.
It might sound counter intuitive but don’t water established plants in beds and borders every day unless your plants look seriously wilted. Daily watering may sound like a good idea but it encourages plant roots to stay near the surface.
It is far better to thoroughly soak established plants once a week; they’ll send their roots further into the soil and cope far better than plants that have had a sprinkle of water every day.
In drought conditions don’t waste water on grass, this may sound harsh but, unless you are in charge of a bowling green, that parched brown grass will soon turn back to green once rain begins to fall.
In hot weather a greenhouse can become like an oven so keep plants hydrated. Maintaining humidity in the greenhouse is also important to deter pests such as red spider mite. Damp down greenhouse paths and staging when weather is hot, and make sure any vents are open. If you don’t have automatic vents, open windows and doors in the morning and close them at night; and do the same with cold frame lids.
Heavy rain certainly helps to fill the water butts but it can also batter down the plants in bedding displays and containers. Larger plants such as lilies, roses and tall perennials such as rudbeckia also need supporting to stop them splaying, as do tall grasses such as calamagrostis (Feather reed grass) and miscanthus.
You can use stakes, bamboo canes and string to secure most perennials and grasses. Place the canes around the plants, hammering them in firmly; when these supports are securely in the ground wind the string around so it circles the whole plant, tying it to the canes as you go.
Canes and string work well but if you want a more creative solution try supporting your plants with a cage of cut branches. Birch, cornus, hazel and willow are all flexible enough to weave into supporting ‘cages’ and the thickest stems also make strong supports.
Use shorter twiggy stems placed between annual plants to supporting summer bedding and flowers in containers.
Ready made wooden or metal obelisks and metal plant supports will also hold plants firmly and stop them from being flattened by rain and falling over onto paths or lawns.
In cut flower plots use large gauge netting strung horizontally between sturdy posts; this allows the plants to grow through but stops them from flopping. The flowering stems will rise above the netting making the whole structure virtually invisible.