“A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.” Herman Hesse.
The heat of summer was upon the lands this week as an occasional shower offered a bit of coolness. It’s the latter half of August and we can detect a bit of seasonal change coming as we watch each pine needle drop from the pine canopies above. With the football season only days away, we realize that we are in that summer-fall season. Be safe in the great outdoors and protect yourself from any heat issues that could become a health problem as you keep hydrated. Our landscapes keep calling for our attention and this brief list of August tips will serve as a guide to help in the right direction.
Angel’s Trumpet Bush: The plant is a perennial and blooms during the Christmas season exhibiting its showy flowers which resemble long trumpets of the angels. Because it likes warm days and cool nights, the month of December tends to favor extensive flower development and an awesome display of color (yellow, pink, purple, apricot, and white). Even though the tiny hummingbirds eat the angel's trumpet's nectar, humans and pets must be very careful around this plant. It comes from the deadly nightshade family and is poisonous. If you have this plant, simply wear gloves while working it and keep your pets away from its vicinity.
Asters (Michaelmas Daisies): In shades of pink, purple, blue and white, these delicate daisy-like blossoms begin opening in late August and continue until frost. Pinching in the early summer promotes mound development exhibiting dozens of flower buds. Asters will tend to creep throughout the garden, but they will blend particularly well with other flowers.
Bulbs: Fall flowering bulbs should be transplanted in the next few weeks. Preferred choices for autumn color include colchicums, crocuses, red spider lilies, baby cyclamen, and white swamp lilies. Delay planting spring flowering bulbs until November and December.
Caryopteris (blue mist shrub): Caryopteris is often grown in the perennial garden and slowly blossoms in August with dazzling blue flower clusters attracting butterflies and bees. If the caryopteris is pruned back in early spring, then the gray-green foliage is attractive all season.
Chelone (turtlehead): With blossoms shaped like turtles heads, chelone is a carefree fall blooming perennial with a dislike for excessive dry heat. Chelone grows in a dense clump offering attractive foliage and red, pink or white blooms to the landscape.
Chrysanthemums: There are many varieties of mums from which to select and plant in your landscape. Mums and pumpkins are the “flag-bearers” of plants for the fall season. Plant potted mums in the ground later this month and into September and enjoy a season of many beautiful colors.
Impatiens: Pinch back leggy impatiens to make them more compact and to stimulate flowering. They recover quickly from pruning and produce flowers again in two to three weeks. After pinching, apply a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 4-0-8 at approximately one-half cup every square yard of bed area. Water the fertilizer into the soil, being sure to wash off any fertilizer spilled on the leaves.
Lawn Repair: This is a good time to repair small, bare spots in the lawn. Purchase pieces of sod of the lawn grass you have, such as centipedegrass. Prepare the soil in each bare spot and use a sharp knife or machete to cut the sod to size and shape of each spot. Carefully firm each piece of sod in position and lightly step on it or tamp it with a flat tamping tool. Be sure to water daily (keep moist) until established.
Pansies: Set out pansy plants soon, or sow seeds directly in garden in well-prepared soil. The pansies should bloom before the first killing frost. As temperatures begin to warm in late winter, they should put on new growth for another show in the spring. Pansies work very effectively as bedding plants, borders, rock garden placements, edging materials, and in planters.
Pine Straw Mulch: It is time to start thinking about replacing the pine straw mulch in your beds if it is weathered and discolored. However, if it is in fairly good shape, simply add a thin layer of fresh pine straw over the top of it as a refresher for aesthetics. Replace the pine straw every few years in your landscape beds depending on appearance, structure, and accumulated depth.
Roses: If your roses have been bothered by insects and diseases, it’s a good idea to remove the old mulch and replace it with new material. Also, remove diseased canes and continue with a weekly spray program for insects and diseases. Keep the plants watered on scheduled program in order to encourage a good flower display in the fall.
Knockout Roses: Select pruning for shape can continue to be practiced. Water regularly and fertilize after each showing of flowers with an appropriate knockout rose fertilizer. Prune during late winter or early spring (about mid-February) before new growth appears.
Solidago (goldenrod): Goldenrod is finally getting the attention it deserves as new varieties (Fireworks and Golden Fleece) are sturdy and full of fall blooms. These plants can be used wisely in the landscape.
Watering: Continue to irrigate your plants based upon the need and species. Set your automatic systems to deliver the necessary amounts of water and calibrate on a regular basis. Make necessary head adjustments to minimize or eliminate any off-target or over-throw applications, such as on driveways, streets, or against structures. If you are using garden hoses, use a watchful eye to deliver sufficient moisture without wasting water through runoff and puddling. Water deeply and infrequently. Never apply water at a rate higher than your infiltration rate into the soil. Coordinate your application program with the precipitation rate to conserve water.
Develop a plant material shopping list for planting activities next month and start collecting cones, acorns, dried leaves of cucumber magnolias, grape vines, and similar materials for Christmas wreaths and decorations.
Continue to think in terms of native and sustainable plants in the landscape rather than those with invasive characteristics. May the results of your immediate efforts be long-lasting so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for seasons to come while bringing you to further realize that environmental stewardship and sustainability should be at the foundation of all your home landscape activities.
Keep your hanging baskets and potted plants refreshed with water and food. Remember to feed and water the songbirds, and give your pets the care they need (protect them from this extreme summer heat and humidity). Be on the lookout for children playing and bicyclists riding along the streets and roadways throughout our communities. Pay attention to school buses and respect their stop signs and other signals as they transport our children to and from school and home. And remember to safely share the road with motorcycles. Drive alert and arrive alive. Don’t drive distracted or impaired, don’t text while driving, and “click-it” or ticket. Let’s keep everyone safe! Help those in need and the homeless as each opportunity arises. And as you receive blessings, always pay them forward and share with others. Pay for a stranger’s meal the next time you are eating out!
“By God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.” Romans 15:32. “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12.
Eddie Seagle is a Sustainability Associate, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International), Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Distinguished Professor for Teaching and Learning (University System of Georgia) and Short Term Missionary (Heritage Church, Moultrie). Direct inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.