Late August always tends to make me realize just how close we are to the summer’s end. And although I prefer spring and fall temperature-wise, there is something about the summer that makes everything feel a bit more relaxed and almost carefree. About this time every year it occurs to me just how quickly time does pass.
It also lets me realize that I am going to soon be cleaning up my gardens and flowerbeds in the anticipation of colder days ahead. There will be plant stakes to remove, mulch to add, plants that need divided and transplanted, and I am sure that is only the beginning.
One thing I don’t want to do is to continue deadheading my plants. Sure, it would make them look better and it would spare me the temptation every day of contemplating if it really is too late to continue trimming or not. But then I remember how anytime you trim a plant back, you are stimulating the plant and encouraging it to send out more growth. While we all want our plants to grow and thrive, new growth when we have a cold snap is not good.
Pretty much the main goal of any plant is to grow, produce seed, and reproduce. Once they accomplish that, many plants slowly retreat toward dormancy in the fall only to reemerge in the spring along with hopefully some of their sprouted seeds joining them. But when we continually trim them back, we throw off their natural cycle of reproduction and can unknowingly be weakening our beloved plants.
What you can do in the meantime is collect seeds from those plants, dry them out, and then store in paper bags or containers with a few grains of rice added to absorb any moisture or humidity. Just always be sure to label your containers, because it is easy to think you will remember and then come spring realize that you don’t remember. I’m speaking from personal experience on that one.
Another task that is coming up is with those beautiful hydrangeas that are blooming now. If you are going to do any trimming, be sure to do it here in the next few weeks, or your window of opportunity may pass you by. If you trim most varieties of hydrangeas too late you will trim the growing tips where they set their buds for the next season, which will cause them not to flower the following year. There are some newer varieties that are around that grow on new wood and those can be trimmed almost at any time of the year. If you are purchasing new hydrangeas or you happened to save the tag from before, it wouldn’t hurt to double check the suggested pruning times.
Cooler temperatures will be on their way in the upcoming months, try to get outside and enjoy what is left of summer so that we can remember how hot we were that one August day when we are snowed in at home in January.
Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at email@example.com.