Height of summer

The garden is looking its glorious best and our favourite summer flowers are at their peak. But just as things are looking so wonderful we shouldn’t rest on our laurels and we need to think about how to ensure that things look just as good next year.

It is not a great time for planting in the garden – it can be difficult to keep new plantings watered so they establish rather than just survive, despite the recent deluges. If you do decide to plant shrubs or herbaceous plants, then pay attention to watering; Soak the plant in a bucket of water so the roots are thoroughly wet. Then take out the hole and water that well. Then plant and again give a good soak so the soil is in contact with the rootball. And then keep a watchful eye on the plants to be sure they never dry out.

There is maintenance too. Lupins and delphiniums should produce a second flush of flowers if the old spikes are cut back as soon as the last flowers have dropped. This prevents the plants wasting energy on producing seeds and will encourage new flowers to appear. If the plants have bad mildew you can cut them back harder and, as long as you water and feed them, they will produce a new flush of growth.

Foxgloves are usually biennial and they will die after flowering. It is sometimes worth cutting plants back when they have finished blooming and they may produce new leaves but young plants are best.

But now is the perfect time to sow more. You can also sow perennials such as delphiniums, lupins and aquilegias. The seeds will germinate at outdoor temperatures and you will have lots of plants to put in the borders in autumn for a riot of colour next year. This is also the time to sow traditional cottage-garden favourites like Canterbury bells and Sweet Williams.

Don’t forget that lots of these flowers are perfect for bees too. A perfect sunny afternoon is always enhanced by the activity of bumblebees visiting the flowers of foxgloves and lupins.

Jobs for the week

Fruit is ripening well now and plants are starting to send out runners. These should be cut off unless you want to peg some down and root new plants. If left on the plants they will form a mass of plantlets that compete with the adult plants and will reduce crops.

Daffodils in grass
Daffodils were late to bloom this year but it should be safe to cut the leaves off as well as the long grass. Trim off with a line trimmer and rake up the dead grass and then you can cut with a regular mower.

There is still time to sow a few late vegetables including French beans, salads and beet. In a few weeks you can start sowing the Oriental veg such as Chinese cabbage and pak choi.

Keep a watch out for blackspot on roses and spray immediately you see signs of the disease. Deadhead roses as they fade.

Make sure clematis are tied to supports as they grow. If not supported the stems can bend and snap under the weight of growth. If growing near a wall, make sure they get enough water in dry weather – if the soil is dry they can suffer from powdery mildew which coats the leaves with white powder at first but then turns the leaves brown.

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