Welcome to the August edition of Fiveways Gardens

 At this time of year, our gardens can begin to look as tired as we feel in this heat.  Early in the morning is a lovely time to potter though, doing a bit of watering and dead-heading.

 Ponds - Pond water levels will have dropped significantly.  Ideally top up with rain water collected in a water butt or other container.  Using rain water helps maintain the natural balance of your pond.  If you don't have a pond pump, pour water from a height to oxygenate the water - vital if you have fish.  If you're lucky enough to have water lilies, remove decaying leaves as they can create an oily film on your pond.  It's also worth keeping an eye out for our friend the snail - and I don't mean water snails.  The common garden snails in my garden seem intent on heading in for a munch and a swim.  The swimming part is obviously a little ambitious and the adventurers need to be hooked out, as decaying animal matter is not a good thing for your pond - again, this is another cause of an oily film.  On a brighter note, enjoy the sight of an array of dragon and damsel flies. See if you can see any tiny ‘froglets' on their journey to adulthood, when hopefully they'll go on to feed on the slugs and snails. 

 General - Now's a good time to trim back hedges.  Remember, if practical, it's best to use secateurs on the larger leaved shrubs such as Aucuba or spotted laurel.  Shears or hedge trimmers will leave lots of half-leaves that will brown and look grotty. 

 A few minutes dead-heading and cutting back tatty-looking plants is well worth the effort.  Also, remember to feed container plants and keep an eye out for vine weevil.  Blackfly seems rife right now, and if you're not squeamish these can be squashed.  Alternatively spray with a solution of washing up liquid, as the blackfly and greenfly won't like it, but it does minimal damage to other insects, like bees and moths.  If you feel spraying with insecticide is the answer, avoid spraying directly onto flowers.  This way, you can minimise the effect on pollinators.

 If you're going away, try to move all your container plants into the shadiest  bit of your garden, ideally sitting in a tray of water.  Pots that are too big to move will benefit from a good soak before you go away, and a gravel mulch over the top of the soil to lock in the moisture.  Consider creating some temporary shade for them while you're away, by using your outdoor furniture, for example.

 Enjoy the lovely weather.


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