August signals the end of summer gardens, but the flowers still have life

Published 9:00 am Sunday, August 16, 2015

Yellow rudbeckias flanked by Joe-pye weed with morning glories clambering up the trellis all help to add color to the August gardens. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Yellow rudbeckias flanked by Joe-pye weed with morning glories clambering up the trellis all help to add color to the August gardens. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

The month of August brings with it the reality that there is not a lot of time left for the gardens. Every day something is past its prime and it is time for me to either deadhead it, cut it down or pull it out. This past week I have been working on the daylilies cutting off the stems and pulling foliage that has turned brown on those that have finished blooming. They have been very lovely this season and I hate to see them end their succession of blooms. Fortunately I do have a couple of them that are repeat bloomers and they will continue to have flowers for a few more weeks that I can enjoy. Last week I pulled out the bachelor buttons that were drying up and left only a few to scatter seeds in the cutting garden this fall so I will have more of them again next spring.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

The sunflowers in the oval garden have had goldfinch sneaking seeds off it and the cosmos that have seed heads also. There hasn’t been much for the birds to snack on this year I’m afraid.  Along the driveway the Liliput zinnias continue to add some much needed color along with the two small rows of celosia. Several containers of flowers that are past their prime have been emptied out and await mums to add color to them for fall.

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Clethra (summersweet) has been blooming and usually attracts lots of bees to it, but so far I am not seeing very many bees on it. This lovely shrub really has taken a hit with the drought the past couple of years. Early this spring I pruned out much of the dead wood to see if I could rejuvenate it, and it does look better than it did earlier in the spring.

Even though the Pagoda dogwood has lots of ripe berries on it, no robins or blackbirds have been nibbling on this fruit. Usually once they ripen, the tree is picked clean in just a matter of a few days. Very few butterflies have been seen in my gardens this year and even fewer insects.  Usually the rudbeckia is covered with insects in August and I have yet to see any on them. The morning glories that usually cover the north fence are slim pickings this year and the leaves are very large so they cover most of the blooms. It sure has been a strange year in the gardens starting with very few migratory birds last spring.

On the positive side, the hydrangeas are absolutely gorgeous and covered with so many blooms. This year I added two more strawberry sundae in containers under the living room windows and they really added lots of beauty to the front of the house. In the front entry garden another ‘bobo’ hydrangea was added making three of them in this garden area.  Both of these varieties of hydrangea paniculata are ideal for the smaller gardens or containers. Speaking of the front entry garden, the renovation I did last year really added a wow factor to this area. The two ‘amber’ flower carpet roses have been in full bloom almost continuously and the colors on them have really been beautiful. Each blossom opens one color of amber and as it continues to open it will change to another shade of it so when you see the bush in bloom it has many different shades of amber at one time.

As the days grow shorter and the mornings cooler I don’t spend as much time watering so I can use that time to transplant flowers to other locations or thin some of them out. My project this fall is to work on Garden  No. 1 that totally got out of hand this year with our wet spring and summer.  Wild garden phlox and my little yellow button flowers managed to take over this garden and while they are pretty when the bloom they choke out the rest of the flowers. It’s time to get brutal and rip some of these plants out.

It won’t be long and the asters of which I have none in my gardens will be blooming along with mums. My solidago is beginning to bloom now adding more yellow to the gardens. I had not planned to order any bulbs to plant this fall, but I broke down and placed orders for more lilies so I am going to have to find room for them someplace.

“There is something deep within us that sobs at endings. Why, God, does everything have to end?  Why does all nature grow old?  Why do spring and summer have to go?” — Joe Wheeler 


Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at