Hello Summer

July 26, 2012

Hello Summer... We’d almost given up on you!  Typically, we have gone from one extreme to the other, so watering, particularly containers and any new plants, is critical. If you see a powdery mildew, this could be caused by drought at the roots; its better, in this instance, to soak a plant rather than to give it a little water regularly. If your water butt is running dry, remember recycled ‘grey water’ is perfectly fine.  And, if you’re lucky enough to be going away, do enlist the help of friends and family to continue in your absence, or give me a call.

water well & prune

The above pretty much summarises your tasks for the month ahead:
  • Prune your Wisteria to avoid the huge tangled balls that become a nightmare to tidy up!
  • Prune side-shoots on restricted fruit trees (such as espaliers, like the one here, and fans on walls and fences) to three to four leaves to form fruiting spurs. If you need assistance with this, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to come out and show you what to do.
  • Deadhead your flowering plants regularly to encourage further blooming.
  • Collect seeds from your favourite plants.
  • Harvest Sweetcorn and other vegetables as they become ready (lucky you!).
  • Continue to cut out old fruited canes on your Raspberries.
  • Lift and pot-up rooted Strawberry runners.
  • Keep ponds and water features topped up.

are your neighbours driving you crazy?

The Telegraph has reported that the latest craze is hot tubs and has been named, for the first time, among the top causes of garden rage. Take a look at the article, its quite astonishing what people will get worked up about! This is my favourite, “One respondent’s main noise nuisance in the garden was the annual visit of his neighbour’s mother-in-law: “She normally comes for a week and spends all her time in the garden complaining at the top of her voice.” What drives you nuts?

flowers grow wild at the Olympics

For those of you who follow my newsletters regularly, you’ll know of my love for wildflowers. So I was absolutely delighted to find this photograph of the wildflower meadow by Nigel P Dunnett at the Olympic Park in Stratford. There are apparently 10 football fields-worth of wildflower meadows, carefully planned and sown to peak for the arrival of the Olympic Torch tomorrow and, of course, sporting a suitably Olympic gold colour scheme. Wildflowers are currently having a 'moment': sales of Cornflowers and field Poppies have tripled this year, perhaps influenced by Sarah Raven's TV programme Bees, Butterflies and Blooms – great also for getting the littluns interested in the garden.

year of the slug (and snail)

The wet weather over the past couple of months has created a slug and snail population explosion! Although evolved to eat rotting organic matter, they won’t turn their noses up at a little fresh and tasty Romaine lettuce! Unfortunately, there is no single way to get rid of them; conventional slug pellets are only so effective and can harm slug predators such as hedgehogs. Catch the guilty late at night by hand, if you can bear it. Avoid beer traps, as they will also catch the slug-eating beetles. Bran can be very effective when it’s dry, as they will gorge themselves, whilst oyster shell (available from pet shops), coffee grounds and sheep’s wool are also effective barriers. In addition, of course, do encourage the likes of hedgehogs, frogs, earwigs and beetles to take your slugs and snails to task, with a nice pile of rotting logs!

box shaping

Trimming Box shoots mid-summer will allow you to create your desired surface shape. But do clear up the cuttings to avoid the risk of Box blight. Allow say 20 mins per plant and use secateurs for intricate designs, or hand shears for hedges and edges. Cut back the young new season's shoots when they have reached around 8 - 10cm long and cut back two leaves from the base. Avoid cutting into the previous year's older growth. A top tip for complex topiary designs is to make your desired shape out of chicken wire and secure it over the plant. As soon as the growth pokes through the wire, simply clip into shape! Again, if you need assistance, do drop me a line as I will be delighted to help x

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