Great Lakes Gardener's August Checklist
August has arrived, the last gasp of summer. It’s a fantastic time to initiate a job, admire the best of the late-summer garden and revel in the bounty of the harvest.
It’s too soon for fall planting of perennials and shrubs, especially with the drought conditions we experienced that summer, but it is a fantastic time to sow seeds for cool-weather plants. Hopefully, by the time the small seedlings get moving, the cooler days of autumn is going to be upon us now and we will have the ability to enjoy another harvest of these goodies as carrots and lettuce.
Lettuce can be grown readily in a container, as can baby carrots.
Plant Colchicums. Plant Colchicums now through the middle of August to give them a lot of time to settle in before flourishing.
Gardener’s suggestion: Take photographs of the package with the title of the Colchicum in which it is implanted to help prevent accidental excavation and preserve its own identity. Take two pictures: One of a closeup of the package, the next showing where it is planted in the garden.
Install a mowing strip. August is a fantastic time to put in a mowing strip round existing beds or beds you might be preparing for fall planting. Pavers create a great edging for keeping grass out and allowing the mower access to eliminate the need for trimming.
Edge planting beds with pavers. This form of paver works great for beds with no acute angles. Lay out the exact contour before digging and be sure the bed is as large as your future needs require. This is a fairly permanent setup, and you do not wish to redo it. To avoid frost heaving:
Dig a trench 2 inches deeper and slightly wider than the paver. Fill the base of the trench with 2 inches of sand, place the paver in and fill in the sides with more sand. Put the pavers as close together as possible. Adding a mowing strip can save hours of time spent pruning and weeding grass from beds and gives a finished look.
August blossoms. While a lot of the garden is looking exhausted, Lycoris squamigera is popping off freshen the spectacle.
This hot bulb contains many common names, by the sacred (resurrection lilies) to the profane (nude ladies). My treasured common name for it is surprise lily, titles because it is grown among plants with foliage which hides the vacant distance during dormancy, therefore it is not visible when sprouting. Suddenly 1 day you turn around and there it is, booming.
Lycoris squamigera is the only one of the beautiful Lycoris tribe that’s reliably hardy in the Great Lakes region. While it prefers full sun, it is going to bloom in partial shade. For many anglers, it is an easy bloomer and multiplier. I have tried it in half a dozen places around my garden, and it grows in only a single, but it grows very well there. So try it in many places to determine where it needs to be. The location Lycoris squamigera prefers in my garden is with all the prairie plants.
A garden of prairie natives reaches its summit in August, together with coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), gayfeather (Liatris spicata) and Joe-pye marijuana (Eupatorium ‘Phantom’).
A beautiful native for the shady August garden is lobelia. For damp dirt, try Lobelia cardinalis, that has red blooms. For drier dirt, there is the beautiful blue-flowered Lobelia syphilitica. Named cultivars can be found in pink, maroon and purple, and all grow about two feet.
August marks the transition from summer to autumnal blossoms, starting with all the tall sedums, such as Hylotelephium ‘Purple Emperor’. Growing it facing chartreuse foliage makes it a garden standout.
It would not be August without the ‘August lily’ (Hosta plantaginea). Its quite aromatic blossoms are beloved of humans, bees and hummingbirds.
Enjoy the vegetable garden. The peppers are ripening to their fullest taste. Bell peppers can be hollowed out and filled with a meatloaf or meatball mixture and baked in the oven, or they can be roasted in the oven or on the grill for sandwiches.
Zucchini bread is a yummy treat, or toss fresh zucchini chopped lengthwise and basted with olive oil on the grill with all the peppers.
Tomato and cucumber salad in vinegar and olive oil is refreshing in summer, however you can eat only so many berries. Can the surplus or create skillet. If you still have surplus from your vegetable garden, think about donating it to your local food pantry.
Enjoy the dog days of summer, also do not forget to watch on the night skies around August 9 to 14, 2012, when the Perseid meteor shower sparkles the heavens.
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