The August garden with a 
splash of yellow black-eyed Susans
The August garden with a 
splash of yellow black-eyed Susans Credit: Rob Cardillo Photography

August tests a gardener’s skill and ingenuity. All too often it is a month of extremes. Some years – probably most years – we are beleaguered by drought; in others, August brings excessive rain and plant meltdown. A gardener has to be prepared for either, especially with climate change playing havoc with our idea of what is normal.

三级成人视频Of necessity, was built around the idea of water-wise gardening. I learnt in my first year that the property’s well, with water about 360 feet down, could not support more than one-and-a-half hours of irrigation with a hose.

As housing developments grew up around me, those wells drew from the same aquifer, and my water levels dropped further. So I came to water-wise gardening as a practical approach – I really had no choice.

三级成人视频As time passed, I noticed that a weeks-long midsummer drought was common; often, rain in the region seemed to go north or south of our immediate vicinity. You know it’s dry when you find yourself cheering on tropical storms, urging them up the east coast in the hope of a little rain.

 David L. Culp 
of Brandywine Cottage is also a snowdrop and hellebore expert Credit: Rob Cardillo Photography

But as gardeners we must take what nature throws at us. Luckily for me, I favour a Mediterranean palette, and many native plants also do well here, having adapted over centuries to dry summers and cold winters.

I am glad that my garden soil contains clay. It’s not as bad as the dense Georgia clay I used to garden in, but I like it because it holds water. All I have to do is add leaf mould, constantly, to make it friable and fertile.

I don’t use a lot of chemical fertilisers; they burn plants when I can’t water them in sufficiently, and too much nitrogen encourages rapid but weak growth.

Most of my garden is on a very thin diet. I don’t overfertilise, and I water only to get plants established. After that they are on their own – except for those in containers.

Plants for texture

三级成人视频But whether the month is wet or dry, August brings home the importance of texture. The bodacious tropicals continue to play a major role in holding the border together, and they are supported in this effort by tall natives like Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium) and ironweed (Vernonia).

The biennial Angelica gigas, with its broad foliage and reddish purple stems topped by purple flower umbels, picks up similar tones in the banana, the purple perilla, and the phlox, creating a pleasing colour echo. Umbels add horizontal planes to the border and impart a sense of naturalism; an increasingly popular trend in recent years.

Annuals and hydrangeas

Rudbeckia fugida var. deamii Credit: Ursula Pechloff

Gardens that look particularly good in August usually have a large number of annuals. This is a good idea for keeping the garden going in the summer doldrums, and often into autumn. Salvia, penta, nicotiana, cleome, celosia – the list of possibilities goes on and on.

三级成人视频These colourful flowers enhance the perennial plantings and bring both flowers and texture to the summer border. Nicotiana sylvestris has large leaves and long, trumpet-shaped flowers that are also fragrant, and N. langsdorffii contributes large, sticky leaves and nodding flowers of an unusual pale green.

三级成人视频I rely on Phlox paniculata in the main border and Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan) in the south border to give me a big colour boost in August. These plants self-sow almost to the point of being a nuisance and give me not only bright colour but numerous flowers for arrangements. In summer the wealth of rudbeckias and other composite flowers seems to reflect the mood of the season – sunny, happy, and carefree. They have the same upbeat effect when you use them in arrangements indoors.

三级成人视频I could easily have a garden full of hydrangeas, many of which flower in June, July, and especially in August. It’s the white-flowering ones, including the panicle hydrangeas, that do so much for the garden at this time of year, especially Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’. White in the summer is so cooling – it’s cool, crisp, and clean-looking.

三级成人视频I use hydrangeas in arrangements and containers as well as in the garden; often, when one has outgrown its usefulness in a container on the patio, it finds new life elsewhere in the garden – in the borders or at the forest edge.

Spotlight on variegation

三级成人视频As they do in any season, variegated trees and shrubs add colour and interest to the garden in high summer, particularly when not much is flowering. The Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’, like a prima ballerina in a tutu, certainly takes centre stage on the hillside. I first fell in love with this stunning variegated dogwood at Beth Chatto’s garden many years ago – a treasured memory.

三级成人视频I do, however, caution against too much variegation. It can be overdone. I aim to use it as an accent – I like it to look intentional, rather than something the pigeons roosted above. I also have a tall variegated pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), and if I could find a big enough variegated devil’s walking stick (Aralia spinosa), I’d be tempted to put that at one end of a border. Both are American natives.

Weeds of value

Keeping plants from overrunning one another is an August task Credit: Rob Cardillo Photography

People are surprised that I grow pokeweeds – I have the golden variety, too – but I find them attractive for their foliage and autumn berries, and they are versatile in arrangements. They do seed around if you let them, however, so buyer beware. A firm hand is needed if you decide to use plants like this that have an ebullient nature.

I like the challenge of using, in a formal way, a plant that most people consider a weed – pokeweed, say, or even chicory (Cichorium intybus). I’m like a plant coach, helping each to reach its potential in the garden. Success depends on where the plant is placed, and how it is used.

That means using it in a different context from the one in which most people see it. I don’t see chicory just as something growing in a roadside ditch, for example – I see its possibilities with other companions and colours, such as an orange poppy or butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).

After all, one man’s weed is another man’s treasure. Many self-sowers act like the stitchery that knits a garden together, giving continuity to a design; that’s how I think of both corydalis and comfrey (Symphytum), as enthusiastic ground covers for dry spots.

The Ruin Garden

An aerial view of the Ruin Garden Credit: Rob Cardillo Photography

三级成人视频Luckily, I like to weed. That’s a good thing, because the ruin garden needs a lot of weeding and cutting back in a hot and humid summer.

三级成人视频I used to have more visible stone, but now it’s much more wild; richer and fuller. It takes a while to learn how far you can let the plants go. I do like contemporary lines, but I also like nature. When I look at this garden, and then at photos of a more contemporary garden, I think, How sterile!

三级成人视频The ruin garden is more approachable, which is what I want in a garden. Yes, there are a lot of unusual plants here, 
but I want the overall experience to be comfortable. It’s a garden, not a landscape.

This article is taken from (Timber Press, £26.99).

12 of the best water-wise plants

Asphodeline lutea

Asphodeline lutea Credit: GAP PHOTOS 

Narrow, grassy-like foliage, 1m to 1.3m flower spikes topped by yellow flowers. Easily grown in full sun and average to well-drained soils.

Calamintha nepeta

Calamintha nepeta Credit: GAP PHOTOS

Otherwise known as lesser catmint; light green, deer-resistant, mint-scented; airy plumes of barely blue flowers. Extra-long bloom period.

Echinops

Echinops Credit: GAP PHOTOS

Globe thistles produce round, metallic-blue flower heads, which are great for drying. Very easy to grow.

Eurybia divaricata

Eurybia divaricata Credit: GAP PHOTOS

Clouds of white flowers are lovely, especially when this autumn-blooming native aster is naturalised. Tolerant of dry rocky soils, grows in part shade to full shade. A must for the woodland garden. Deer resistant.

Galtonia

Galtonia candicans Credit: GAP PHOTOS

This summer-flowering bulb offers beautiful white flowers in early August.

Nepeta

Nepeta 'Walkers Low' Credit: GAP PHOTOS 

Beautiful yet utilitarian. If you’ve given up on growing lavenders, try nepeta (catmint). Easy maintenance. The shorter cultivars have become very popular.

Patrinia scabiosifolia

Patrinia scabiosifolia Credit: GAP PHOTOS

Easy to grow. Long bloom time; sprays or panicles of bright yellow flowers in summer, when you really need colour. Full sun. Grows 1-2m tall. Good cut flower. Should be more widely grown.

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Russian sage' Credit: GAP PHOTOS

三级成人视频Russian sage is the standard-bearer of drought-tolerant perennials. Blooms for many weeks, lavender-blue flowers over silver-grey foliage. Deer and rabbit resistant, too!

Rohdea japonica

Rohdea japonica  Credit: ALAMY

Sacred lily, an evergreen perennial with strappy green leaves, makes an elegant ground cover or specimen that withstands shade, drought, and deer. Almost tropical-looking and yet it is hardy in our garden.

Stachys

Stachys officinalis 'Hummelo' Credit: GAP PHOTOS

Many people think of S. byzantina (lamb’s ear) when they think of drought-tolerant stachys, but I have found it problematic in wet summers. Stachys officinalis (betony), with violet-pink flowers, is easy to grow.

Symphyotrichum cordifolium

Symphyotrichum 'Little Carlow'  Credit: GAP PHOTOS

三级成人视频Clouds of blue aster flowers in early autumn. Does well at the woodland’s edge and in dry meadows. Will grow in dry shade, and under walnut trees, resisting their toxicity. Deer resistant.

Verbascum

Verbascum chaixii Credit: GAP PHOTOS

三级成人视频Verbascum thapsus, V. chaixii, and V. × hybridum are short-lived perennials. Great vertical accents to 2m tall. Grow well in poor soils and often self-sow in full sun on dry, rocky slopes.