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Playing in the dirt: Master Gardener tips for August can reap fall rewards


Sharon Carrigan

Sharon Carrigan



Sharon Carrigan



Ah, August! The dog days of summer typically bring exhausting heat, long spells of no rain and very high electric bills. But this year we have, so far, escaped the extremes we felt last year; at least that's the way it seems to me. We've had rainfall and somewhat more moderate temperatures, and the place to verify these observations is the butterfly garden at the Riverwalk.  


The Lowndes County Master Gardeners have worked very hard to provide a beautiful city patch providing nectar, food and shelter to the butterfly populations. But they have done much more: They have provided a place for education, fun, rest and reflection. Visiting the garden will surely delight, if not provide any monetary riches. It's a wonderful place to take your children, grandchildren or just yourself. The flowers appear to have wings because of the plethora of butterflies. You might also spot a hummingbird or two, a caterpillar or three, or a predator wasp hauling her prey into her nest in the ground. I was privy to all these experiences at the garden just last week. 


Now for some tips for August. 


  • Plan: Prepare beds for October planting by adding compost or leaf mold, and don't forget to order bulbs. 


  • Plant: Daylilies need a sunny location. Divide and transplant Louisiana iris, Easter lily, cannas, liriope, ajuga and Shasta daisy. Plant cool season vegetables. Plant warm season grasses. Mums should be planted for September bloom and fall color. Marigolds, asters, zinnias and celosia can be planted to replace faded annuals. 


  • Fertilize: Treat azaleas, camellias and gardenia with iron chelate if they begin to show yellowing leaves. Feed mums with a complete fertilizer every two weeks and water thoroughly until buds show color. 


  • Prune: Cut back annuals to encourage fall blooms. Continue to remove dead heads. Cut back rose canes to 24-30 inches from ground for autumn blooms. Remove dead and damaged wood from trees and shrubs. 


  • Water: Water garden deeply, but infrequently, early in the morning or in late afternoon. Potted plants and hanging baskets need to be watered daily. Make sure azaleas and camellias stay well-watered. 


  • Miscellaneous: Mow weekly and leave clippings on the lawn. Turn your compost pile. Feed the birds. 


    'Til next time, I'll be playing in the dirt. Hope to see you there. 


    Sharon Carrigan of Columbus shares these gardening tips on behalf of the Lowndes County Master Gardeners.



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