By August, the garden can look tired and tattered, but it doesn't have to look this way. There are several things that can be done now to revive and rejuvenate the perennial garden.
Take a look at the garden and search out any areas that are lacking bloom. These blank spots often exist because the majority of us purchase plants in the spring and early summer when we have cabin fever after a long winter. We gravitate to the plants that are in bloom at the garden center and purchase the spring and early summer bloomers. Now is the time pick up some plants that will bloom in late summer and early autumn. Planting at this time will require extra care since temperatures may be high and rainfall may be low. New plants will need regular watering to become established.
Existing garden perennials may need to be rejuvenated in late summer. Cut back any perennials that have turned brown or become tattered. After cutting them back, provide the plants with water during dry weather. Many perennials respond favorably to this kind of treatment . Those plants that don't regrow now, will do so next spring from the root system.
Deadheading can also improve the look of the late summer garden. Remove spent flowers to keep the garden tidy. You may not want to deadhead everything, especially if you are trying to get plants to naturalize, save seeds, or if you are trying to attract birds. Know what your purpose is and then deadhead select plants.
A final task, and the one many gardeners dread, is weeding. Sometimes the late season gardens look bad because the weeds have gained a foothold. Get out and get the weeds out. The garden will begin to look better immediately. As an added benefit, your perennials will grow better without the competition of the weeds.
You don't have to let late summer take it's toll on your garden. With a few simple steps, a perennial garden can be kept beautiful and productive throughout the entire season.
Anne Lenox Barlow has had experience in the agricultural field as a horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.