Itching to while away a few hours in the garden as the Bank Holiday rolls into town? Join Ruth Hayes for a spot of well-spent late summer gardening…

Bank Holiday Gardening

Is it really the August Bank Holiday? Part of me feels sad because the curtain is on the verge of falling on summer, but I do love autumn’s colours, crispness (you can keep the days of damp dreariness) and that glorious glut of homegrown goodies.

As usual, many people’s long weekend will involve the garden, either catching up on essential tasks or enjoying being outside and making the most of summer’s end.

One of my main jobs will be potting on a selection of perennials I bought but haven’t got round to planting out (my eyes were definitely bigger than my borders!), preserving and protecting wood and metalwork before the weather turns and looking after the garden’s wild inhabitants.

And, of course, I’ll keep on harvesting tomatoes, plums, gages and whatever else is ready for the kitchen. For me, one of the best bits of the day is taking an early evening stroll around the garden after work, often with a pair of snippers in my back pocket so I can carry out a bit of light deadheading as I go.

It keeps me aware of what needs doing in the garden, but it’s also a wonderful way of relaxing (especially when carried out with a chilled glass of something to hand). So whatever tasks you feel you need to tackle this bank holiday, don’t forget to take a moment or two to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of this summer’s gardening labours.


Re-potting perennials

repotting web

1 Re-pot languishing perennials into slightly larger containers using John Innes No 2 compost.

watering web

2 Water them well and don’t let them dry out. They will be fine in their containers until you pot them out in autumn, when soil will be warm from the summer and hopefully dampened by rain.


Four key gardening jobs


1 In drought conditions, provide fresh water for birds and garden mammals such as hedgehogs. Make sure your birdbath is kept clean.


ash on compost web use

2 Keep adding green and brown garden waste to composts, plus a little high-potassium barbecue ash as long as it doesn’t contain food scraps.


painting web

3 Use dry days to protect wood and metalwork. Sand it down if necessary first and wipe off any dust and debris with a damp cloth.


beer trap web

4 Keep an eye on pest numbers. Slugs and snails will emerge in the cooler, damper weather so set beer traps for them.


• Ruth Hayes is AG’s Gardening Editor and talks you through your weekly jobs in every issue of Amateur Gardening