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Down to Earth: Why we should savour late summer

Don’t let garden bores and chores stop you savouring late summer, says Cambridge designer Robert Barker

Cosmos (37608088)
Cosmos (37608088)

Without sounding like a man who is on the cusp of viewing the cup of life as being half empty as opposed to half full, we are now entering the last month of summer and before you know it we will be in the realms of conkers, bonfire nights, turning back the clocks and central heating.

This all sounds almost far fetched, especially as I am currently sitting at my computer, typing away with windows fully opened and sunshine beaming in like a ray of hope. Whether your glass is viewed as half empty or half full there are no two ways about it, the last chance to savour the summer is now!

Late summer can be a tricky time for the keen gardener; even more so this year with everything that has been going on worldwide. We have been doing our best to fight off the spread of Covid-19, but for gardeners another persistent battle has been taking place and that is the battle against drought.

Compared to most of the UK, East Anglia has one of the lowest rain counts in the country and this year it has been record-breakingly dry. This has caused the plants in our gardens - and all of us who care about our gardens - to go through stress. Lots of hours have been spent watering exhausted-looking plants and feeding evergreens that look frankly anaemic. Even plants that tolerate dry conditions have looked like characters from old films that have been stranded in the desert gasping for water.

In August the garden can slip into a very green phase if not properly designed. So often I hear friends say “Oh you should have seen the garden in spring when it looked at its best”. It is true that spring and early summer are the prime times for gardens, but you certainly shouldn’t write off late summer. A well-designed garden should provide interest throughout the year.

While this is the time to be collecting ripened seeds and trimming back plants in preparation for autumn, such as lavender, this is also the month to enjoy plants that have been working hard behind the scenes patiently getting ready to shine. Varieties of Rudbeckia, Sedum, Cosmos, Helianthus and Phlox will be at their best in the month of August.

Helianthus (37608089)
Helianthus (37608089)

So please don’t focus on the warm months coming to an end: when you find the time, step outside into your gardens with a cold drink and enjoy savouring the summer.

See robertbarkerdesign.com for more.

READ MORE: Real Life: Why planting a garden makes a house a home

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