August Review

The last day of August arrives, heralding Summer’s decline; yet the garden is not giving up without a fight.

Flowers in the August border

I am still thrilled by the display put on by the long border; viewed from the house as above there is a dazzling sea of colours, shapes and textures which pleases me. Some of the strongest colours in the garden are threaded through this border; the crocosmia, a rudbeckia and several heleniums in shades of yellow and orange. More japanese anemones have sprung into bloom in gentler pinks and white; Pamina and Prinz Heinrich have joined the paler September Charm and Robustissima, with Honorine Jobert’s white lacy petals just unfurling and Queen Charlotte’s buds about to burst.

Towards the far end of the border, the colours become calmer and there are more gaps, particularly as we reach the bench at the foot of the horse chestnut tree. This area is sparsely planted so far, and many of the plants that have been added here flower early in the year, so that as summer wanes the interest is dominated more by foliage than flowers, with plenty of spaces still to fill especially around the bench.

Quiet August border

At the front of the swell of this border, the Acidanthera whose corms I planted in the spring have sported fists of rapier leaves all summer, their strong simple shapes especially striking when backlit by the sun. A few weeks ago the first inquisitive buds arched their necks out from these clumps of foliage, and are now beginning to burst into flower. I love their elegant white blooms, with dark purple splashes etched deep in their throats, and they have a wonderful sweet scent. I’m not sure whether they will overwinter well in our heavy clay, though I did add grit to their planting holes, but even if this is their only season of glory I shall enjoy it.


The field border is still looking glorious, in a more muted palette of blues, pinks, purples and whites, with the odd splash of pale yellow from the rose and a potentilla, and the deeper yellow of rudbeckia against Sambucus nigra’s dark foliage hiding towards the back. I love this strong contrast, only glimpsed as you walk towards the shed; a heatspot in an otherwise unified patchwork of cooler colours.

Field border end of August

The newest border is, inevitably, the least densely planted – only dug out three months ago. This year it is home to a high number of transients: annual Salvia patens, Nicotiana alata, Ammi Majus, Daucus carota ‘Black Knight’ among others. The Dahlias, too, are ephemeral: Twynings After Eight, Chat Noir and David Howard (we think) will be lifted at the first frosts, until they are replanted here again next year. A more permanent fixture, Acer dissectum ‘Garnet’, has pride of place in the middle, though its leaves are looking rather ragged after a barrage of assaults by high winds through the summer. Small clumps of hardy geraniums, penstemons, aquilegias, knautia, echinacea and various young grasses should be more established next year and knit the border together better, along with several of the Verbascum chaixii album that I raised from seed, only one of which has flowered this year after being planted out rather late.

Kitchen border end of August

In the kitchen garden, August has seen us harvesting a good crop of garlic and potatoes, a step ahead of threatening rust and blight, while the latter has seen off our greenhouse tomatoes sadly rather early. But the runner beans are cropping heavily, while courgettes have settled into a respectable rhythm, and we seem to have some good winter squashes forming beneath their canopy.

Winter squashes climbing up support

Ripening squash under canopy

Our supply of lettuce leaves has finally began to falter; the last sowings still small and many of the remaining plants now bolting. We’ve enjoyed the first fennel bulbs, thin raw slices macerated in lemon juice and enjoyed in salads: with braised lentils, goats cheese and sun-warm tomatoes, once with cubes of  squash roasted in garlic and thyme from the remaining fruit, only just beginning to wizen, of last year’s harvest.

The mornings are suddenly noticeably cooler and darker here: September and the headlong descent into autumn begin tomorrow.

For more end of August reviews, visit the Patient Gardener.


16 thoughts on “August Review

  1. You must be very happy with your whole garden. Even though it is so newly planted you have a mass of colour and texture. I do like the name long border, maybe I should change my left hand border to that (left hand sounds so banal!). Congratulations on the Acidanthera, they aren’t easy. One year in the UK I had them and they were fabulous, but that was a never to be repeated experience. As they’ve done well for you in this very wet summer, I imagine they need more water than I imagined. Christina

    • I am pleased – it’s really taken off. Like any garden, especially a new one, it has areas still to do and some to improve, but I love how full and colourful it looks. Reading around on acidanthera, they like heat and good drainage, so it’s quite a surprise that they have flowered for us. I think we escaped a lot of this summer’s heaviest wet, somehow, though, and I did plant them in the stoniest sunniest bit of border we have. Sounds like I will need to lift them or lose them though…

  2. I love Japanese anemonese, we have ‘Honorine Jobert.’ Our garden has been slow to transition to the fall bloomers, which is surprising since everything else has been early. We are just starting to get the goldenrods and asters.

    • Honorine Jobert is beautiful, there is something about the simplicity/purity of the flowers which is quite perfect. We still only have one aster flowering, A. f. Monch, so not everything is early here either.

  3. All your borders are looking very attractive. I do like your Acidanthera – I might try them, they might overwinter well here as my soil is very light and stony.

    • Thank you. I recommend the Acidanthera, as well as being pretty their scent is wonderful, sounds like you may not even have to lift them over winter either, which would be good.

  4. Your borders are looking gorgeous, so wonderful.

    My Acidanthera havent flowered this year which is very disappointing but then they were very cheap bulbs so I shouldnt really be surprised.

    Thanks for joining in again this month


    • Thanks, Helen, I’m still thrilled with the garden (though still lots of ideas fermenting for next year, and bare patches to fill!).
      My acidanthera were part of a mixed bag of summer bulbs that were ‘free’ with p&p at the beginning of the year, so it’s a bonus that they’ve come up so well. I will probably have to lift them if I want them back next year, for just five corms it’s definitely worth trying as they’re so pretty.

  5. Have Japanese anemones grown unusually high this year Sara or is it my imagination running riot? Love the acidanthera – such a graceful form. I am telling myself that autumn does not really begin until the equinox, despite the really chilly night we had on Thursday.

    • Ah, I’m afraid I don’t have any experience for comparison; these are our first anemones, and I planted them all this time last year, so this is the first time they’ve flowered. Some are looking very tall though. Yes autumn is still far ahead of us, but I’m starting to feel its shadow now and then over my shoulder…

  6. beautiful Sara, each month your borders just get better and better, I think it’s because you have so much variety a lot of different plants it’s something I feel I need to do, your squash leaves look like something that has grown from my garden compost I had a feeling it was from this family of plants, your grow your own has done and is still doing well despite the hick ups, Frances

    • Thanks Frances. What you see in our borders are my plantaholic tendencies: I am infatuated with so many different plants, and attempt to cram them all into our limited space ;). Heh.

  7. Hi Sara, I love the contrast between the gentle riot of colour in the long border and the more restrained, but so very pretty, field border. I am really enjoying watching your garden come together. What on earth will you do once the borders by the bench and the patio have filled out?! I can foresee that area of lawn shrinking in the years to come…

    • Thanks, I find it so hard to restrict myself from just piling all the plants I love in, so have compromised by having one mad border, and the other slightly calmer…
      Suspect pulling things out to make room for other plants will amuse me for a season or so, then I suspect you’re right: some of the lawn will have to ‘shrink’…

  8. I was just looking at your about page and you’re in a beautiful area of the country – great images of the changing seasons.

    Your long border still looks really good. I haven’t been so fortunate but I’ve focused this year on a lot of container planting – which seems to have paid off. September’s looking quite good all round (so far) – don’t you think?

    • Thank you, we are pretty lucky with our location.
      I’ve neglected our containers rather this year, despite good intentions (must try harder next year!). September is proving a pleasantly mellow month so far, a relief after the harsh summer.

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