Aloe vera

With the garden in full flower and August in full swing you really could believe that there shouldn’t be that much to do other than simply sit back and enjoy it all. That’s where the trouble starts, you sit back and see all the jobs you forgot to do or all the next lot building up and soon needing to be done.

Summer is a time when everything grows filling the garden with all those lush greens. Let’s start with the Datura, a fast growing shrub that has already shed its wonderful bell shaped flowers and has begun dropping its huge leaves as they turn bright yellow but along with all this it is making remarkable new growth with yards long branches along which all those new leaf clusters are forming and where there will be new flowers in their season. Now would be as good a time as any to start a sort of summer pruning otherwise the prolific growth of this shrub will be completely out of hand. These new long branches are quite tender green wood and quite easy to cut with the secateures to form a tighter bushy effect or if your Datura is making the hedging tuck some of the shortened branches in behind others to fill it out.

Left to its own devices it grows long and leggy leaving ugly bare spaces and miles long fronds that seem to go on forever waving up in the air.

It is lovely to see such healthy new lush growth but it really does need to be kept in hand. This is another of those shrubs that grows easily from a cutting, simply stick some cuttings into moist soil and see if they make root. Do remember if you are working with Datura that it is a poisonous shrub.

Another shrub that could well have seemed to have finished flowering for the summer is the buddlia better known by its common name of the ‘butterfly bush’ just to see the butterflies hovering over the blooms when in full flower will certainly help you see why it is given that name. I mention it now because this is a shrub that could well do with just a little more than ‘dead heading’ , cutting each spur back where it is obviously dried out will encourage new growth from lower down each stem and nearly every spur of new growth could well produce more flowers. We have months ahead of us for many of these shrubs to come into bloom again and to continue to fill the garden with colour.

Yet another on its second time round is the Bottle brush already full of colour again and along with many others, this plant attracts the bees. As the clusters of flower heads mature the little yellow specks of pollen build up on every one of them where you can see the bees hovering to fill the sacks on their legs with it. This is yet another tree that could well do with keeping cut into shape if its a tree you are aiming for rather than just a large overflowing bush. Somtimes it does seem hard to cut off good healthy growth but it really is the only way to keep them where you want them and encourages more flowers the following season.

Cacti and succulents of course come into their own in full summer due to their own fleshy stems and leave. These plants can survive the heat and dry weather without wilting or showing signs of thirst. These as well can grow roots easily from a simple snippet and need very little looking after as well as being useful in pots on terraces where there is no garden. A good natural one is to always have an Aloe Vera that will take root from a cutting. This is a must to have on hand to use as relief from mosquito bites, just the fleshy inside of a tip broken from its fleshy leaf rubbed on a bite will almost instantly take that awful itch away so for pure medicinal purposes be sure to nurture this cacti.

It is in fact grown commercially now and used as a basis for many cosmetics and medicinal creams besides what I have just mentioned, direct from the plant.

So gardening isn’t just to look at pretty flowers, it has its uses as well.