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Summer In The Garden

2nd of July 2008

Gardeners do spend a lot of time talking about the weather. Last summer we had a lot of rain which made the weeds grow furiously and lawns needed more mowing, slugs and snails were more active and diseases such as Potato Blight were rampant. Should we have hot dry weather, we should be taking steps to retain moisture in the soil and the best way of achieving this is by laying landscape fabric on the ground and covering with a mulch or organic compost or bark chippings or even home-made compost. Trees, shrubs and roses will not need to be watered in dry weather if a good thick mulch is put around them. Bedding plants, especially those in hanging baskets and containers, do need to be watered regularly and so, too, do all vegetables. Tomatoes will develop Blossom End Rot if they are not watered at regular intervals.
This summer keep up with regular sowings of salads, parsley, radish and lettuce and start sowing late beet and cabbage. Wallflowers should be sown as soon as possible. Give lavenders a light trim, cut the hedges and prune shrubs once they have flowered. Prune soft fruit and cut out the old canes of raspberries, with the exception of the autumn-fruiting varieties. All the prunings can go on to the compost heap.
Vegetables will need feeding with Growmore or a liquid feed and tomatoes will need regular feeds of Tomorite. The best fertilizer for roses is Toprose which is also a good feed for shrubs and hardy perennials. Spray roses every 3 weeks against Black Spot, Mildew and Rust and it’s a good idea at the same time to spray campanulas and hollyhocks to keep them free from Rust.
Keep the lawns cut regularly but in hot dry weather do not cut too short and never attempt to water – a nice brown lawn will always return to green a very short time after the rains come. Always keep on top of the weeding and dead-head roses, bedding plants and perennials as often as you are able.
This is the best time of the year to take hardwood cuttings of many shrubs and climbers. Spring-flowering bulbs will soon be on sale and it is a good idea to chose while the selection is at its peak, but far too early to plant out in the garden.
Should you be going away on holiday do try to find a friend who is able to water your hanging baskets, tomato plants, runner beans, marrows and courgettes and to ventilate your greenhouse in your absence. In the garden centre there are automatic devices on sale which can do some of these tasks for you. Remember in hot weather to put out water for the birds and to top up the pond. During the summer months there are a host of plants which look good in the garden and a visit to one of the many gardens open to the public is well worth while. The garden at White Gates, Commonwood, is open on Saturday 5 July, and the Barn, Stoney Lane, Bovingdon, is open on Sunday 13 July. Stresa, The Drive, Rickmansworth is open on 27 July and the Abbots House, Abbots Langley, is open on both 6 July and 24 August. At Chenies Manor the annual Plant and Garden Fair is on 20 July. The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is from 8-13 July (tickets 0870 247 1240) and the RHS Flower Sow at Tatton Park is from 23-27 July (tickets 0870 906 3748).
Terry Simmonds

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