In the garden – August


More useful gardening tips from Gill Pound:-

At the time of writing these notes we have had an exceptionally warm, sunny June and many people are predicting worse drought than usual for the summer of 2014. Plants have various strategies for resisting heat and drought and one of the most effective is being succulent, in other words parts of the plant (both leaves and stems) are adapted to store water to enable them to survive drought. One of the most popular groups of succulents (plantes graisse in French) are the agavaceae, we frequently see the large blue agave (Agave americana) and the popular Yucca gloriosa which can form very large plants and are also very spiny and are therefore only suitable in certain situations. But, there are many other plants in this family which are much smaller and better adapted for smaller gardens or container growing, Agave victoria-reginae or Agave filifera for example. There are also many which have very attractive architectural forms such as Nolinas or Dasylirions and it is worth noting also that Nolinas, Beschornerias and Hesperaloes are not particularly spiny.

Groupings of plants like these will provide all year round interest by virtue of their forms, and for additional summer interest they can be interplanted with ground cover succulents such as Delosperma cooperi or drought tolerant perennials like Epilobium Western Hills.

We have been testing a number of different agavaceae at La Petite Pépinière for several years now and you are most welcome to visit to observe the various forms. Other places to observe these types of plants include:-
the Jardin Exotique at Ponteilla,

the Jardin Botanique at Feuilla 

and also at Les Epines de Lespinet

August is a month during which gardens are often resting and plants can look a bit jaded. Watering and weeding where and when necessary will continue to be ongoing tasks, remember that watering a flower bed the evening before weeding will usually make the job easier. Containers and hanging baskets may need watering daily during the very hot period but if you are watering your garden remember that a deep soaking once a week or fortnight is much more effective than frequent sprinkling.

During August think about the following:

– Towards the end of the month start to divide perennials such as iris and day lilies (Hemerocallis) which will not flower again this year.

– Continue deadheading perennials which will repeat flower such as Coreopsis, Gaillardias and Rudbeckia to encourage a second flowering. Cut back hardy geraniums to encourage new growth.

– Collect seeds from annuals such as Cosmos and Californian poppies, you can sow these next spring.

– Clip back lavenders once they have finished flowering, but never into old wood.

– Prune wisteria – leave any long stems that you want to encourage to extend the framework of the plant, cut back completely any stems which are totally unwanted and cut back all other stems to two or three buds on each stem.

– Clear fallen leaves affected by blackspot from around roses.

– Prune roses which aren’t repeat flowering once all flowers have finished.

At La Petite Pépinière we shall be offering our two day gardening course,

An Introduction to Gardening in Summer Dry Climates on Tuesday 14th October (11am – 1, 2 – 5pm) and Wednesday 15th October (10am – 12.30, 1.30 – 4pm) This two day course is aimed at those relatively new to gardening in the Languedoc and will focus on providing information and promoting discussion in a relaxed and informal atmosphere which will help those interested in creating interesting, easy to maintain and colourful ornamental gardens in our summer dry climate. We will consider the nature of the local climate, the physical problems associated with gardening here (heat, drought, cold, wind, soil) and how to cope with them; recognising plants which are suited to this climate; buying plants; planting techniques and maintenance. We shall also look at design basics and planting schemes, succession – planting for year round interest and plants for particular situations. Appropriate resources and useful French/English vocabulary will also be included as well as a guided tour of the garden here to illustrate points made.

For further information contact Gill Pound at La Petite Pépinière de Caunes (shrubs and perennials, ornamental grasses, unusual plants and plants for dry climates, garden advice and consultation), 21, Avenue de la Montagne Noire, 11160, Caunes-Minervois.

Tel: 04 68 78 43 81, email

Open the second weekend of every month ie the 8th, 9th & 10th August, the 12th, 11th & 13th September, the 10th, 11th & 12th October and 7th, 8th & 9th November from 10am to 6pm each day and also by appointment – just phone or email to fix another time.