around the garden – An August Occasion to Talk About Trees and Gardens

0:00 August heat and humidity sap gardening motivation. The shade oasis of a tree-lined street has never looked or felt better. Climate change is obvious as […]

Published August 24, 2023 4:53 PM
3 min read


August heat and humidity sap gardening motivation. The shade oasis of a tree-lined street has never looked or felt better. Climate change is obvious as you walk in the Sahara-like heat of streets devoid of trees. Planting trees is a quick, effective, and inexpensive response that our city can act on right away to protect us all. There is nothing more to say than: Plant Many Now!

I wonder what it takes to get City leaders and homeowners to wake up to the tremendous value of trees along our roadways and yards. Trees increase property values, cool homes, reduce flooding, clean the air, are great for the environment, and sequester carbon.

Sounds like a no-brainer, good government initiative, right? From my perspective, it is time to stop talking and start digging. City staff are ready, willing, and able. All that seems to be lacking is the political will to act. There is a plan with over 100 ready-to-go planting sites. I beseech all who are running for Rye City Council this year to make a campaign promise to plant more street trees — and keep it!

While we wait for declarative campaign promises to plant more trees, here are some late summer gardening to-dos:

• Pinch back herb flowers before they go to seed. Dry for winter use.

• Weeds are fast going to seed. Remove them completely or clip off their heads before the seeds scatter.

• Plant fall crops, including leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, collards, kale, and mustard, as soon as possible. Radishes, turnips, beets, and carrots can all be started from seeds in August.

• Order spring-flowering bulbs for fall planting.

• Assess areas in the garden that need additional planting or rethinking.

• Prepare a landscape plan for fall planting of shrubs and trees. Hey this goes for the City, too!

• Continue to take garden notes and/or photographs to plan for future designs.

• Allow lawns to go dormant; they will green up again when rain returns.

• Mow lawns regularly to 2½-inch high to reduce stress on your turf.

• Spot seed to spruce up your lawn between now and September 20.

• Continue to aerate and moisten compost pile to speed decomposition.

• Deadhead annuals and perennials for continuous bloom. Stake tall plants.

• Check for insect pests and treat them accordingly. Try Neem Oil.

• Remove fallen leaves and debris which harbor insect pests and disease organisms.

• Continue to apply deer repellent.

• Cut flowers for drying such as yarrow, strawflower, gomphrena, hydrangea, and others.

• Keep hummingbird feeder clean and filled.

• Divide bearded iris. Dispose of any borer-damaged parts.

• Plant late-season annual ornamental kale and cabbage for fall color.

• Plant broad-leaved and needle-leaved evergreens from late August through October 15. Feed all such evergreens with iron chelate if leaves are yellowing.

• Keep weeding!

• Deadhead roses and repeat-blooming shrubs, including butterfly bushes.

• Fertilize roses to encourage final new growth and harden off before frost.

• Prune raspberry and blackberry canes after fruiting to 6” height. Make sure you wear gloves as bramble thorns are difficult to remove.

• Continue to fertilize annuals and container plants each month.

• Fertilize chrysanthemums weekly until buds show color.

• Prepare house plants to go back inside for winter, checking under leaves for insects. Prune, freshen soil, and clean pots. 

Prune summer-flowering trees and shrubs once flowering is complete. Consult with a tree service expert to determine which trees in your property need tree branch trimming, tree removal and stump grinding. Lightly prune overgrown hedges and deciduous shrubs.

Once you’ve attended to most of these tasks, head to the hammock under your majestic, canopied tree and dream about how beautiful Rye would once again be if it were indeed a Tree City.

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