AUGUST is almost here and with it, I fondly trust, the promise of a warming air.
We haven't had much frost this winter but days have been unusually cold and dull so it will be lovely to see the sun again.
As the garden is still relatively bare it's a good time to look at its design and think about views and focal points.
A piece of art in the right place can transform a garden, causing you to pause and admire while simultaneously inviting further exploration.
Artist Lorraine Inwood has created artworks for her garden that include leadlight cobwebs, a table covered with a mosaic "cloth" and wall plaques of local wild animals, all springing from what she calls her crazy imagination. An original such piece of art makes a garden uniquely yours.
- More plants like magic | In Fiona's Garden
- Graceful winter beauty | In Fiona's Garden
- There's a 'bare' in there | In Fiona's Garden
Like the single piece of fine furniture that pulls a room together, a piece of art brings life and atmosphere to a garden and rewards you with a lifetime of pleasure.
Meanwhile August is our last chance to get things ready for spring.
As usual I'm way behind with planting and have had to re-organise my propagation corner.
Pots are now in three groups: those to plant this month, those to pot up for plant stalls this spring, and the leftovers to replant in bigger pots for next autumn.
August is also last chance to finish winter pruning of summer flowering shrubs, including roses.
These plants flower on new wood so the object is to encourage growth by removing the oldest wood - grey rather than brown or green - to let light in and cutting back what remains to encourage new shoots.
Winter flowering shrubs including Camellia sasanqua, Daphne odora and winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrans) can be pruned and fertilised when their flowers have finished, though this is generally only necessary if they have become unshapely or leggy for any reason.
Spray fruit trees now with lime sulphur to prevent peach leaf curl and other fungal diseases.
Spray at bud swell; once the tree is in leaf it is too late, you will need to wait until next autumn after the leaves have fallen.
Peach leaf curl is a common disease for peach and nectarine trees and apart from being unsightly, can substantially affect fruit production.
Mix only the quantity you need, following the directions on the bottle, and if necessary spread a groundsheet to prevent the spray falling on plants near the tree that the spray may damage.
Beds can be dug over and manured now for summer vegetable crops, but delay planting until October or November in districts that experience late frost.
Many small bulbs like jonquils, crocuses and snowdrops (Galanthus) are flowering now. Mark special favourites with a stick that you'd like to increase, so you can lift and replant them later when their leaves die down.
Hellebores likewise are in flower now. 'Anna's Red' has striking, grey-green, marbled leaves that long outlast the beautiful, claret red blooms.
- For more about Lorraine Inwood's work, see Tranquillity Garden Art on Facebook or phone 02 6337 5584