Flower Garden Tasks in Mid Summer
Freesia corms can be started off in J.I. Potting compost No. 3, planted with their own depth of compost above them. Put ten in a 20cm (8in)pot; they should begin to flower in early winter. Once potted, theshould be put outdoors in a cool, lightly shaded place and kept moist.
corms can also be potted to start them into growth for flowering in early winter; they are quite likely to start themselves off and produce new leaves from a completely dry corm sometime in mid-summer. Use J.I. Potting compost No. 2, and a 12.5-15cm (5-6in) pot for most corms, though the really large old ones will need 20cm (8in) pots. Make sure the surface of the corm is above the compost.
The spring-that have died down completely can be lifted and cleaned if the ground is required for other plants; in any case it is better to lift , otherwise they become weedy or flower badly, or mice eat them. Biennials which have finished flowering can also be dug up and con-signed to the compost heap .You will probably have a bonus in the form of self-sown seedlings from some of them, so don’t be too hasty to remove all the plant seedlings that appear; they may not be weeds.
Continue to remove flowers as they die, taking the stem off completely at the same time, as it is no use to the plant and will die in any case. Plants which will particularly need this attention are delphiniums, heuchera,, London pride, lupin, lythrum, monarda, pelargoniums, peony, poppy, pyrethrum and any and with flowers which have faded.
Catmint (nepeta) and Campanula porscharskyana will flower again in early autumn if the flowering stems are cut off and, in fact, they may already be producing good new growth. Rock plants which flower profusely on creeping growth will respond in the same way to similar treatment.
You can begin to disbud the early-flowering chrysanthemums now, if you want one large bloom on each sideshoot. It is likely that there is a miniature flower-bud showing at the tip of each shoot and other tiny growths in the axils of the leaves below it. These will also produce flowers if left to grow but should be snapped off without removing the leaves so that the plant’s energy is concentrated on the top flower-bud. The smaller these shoots are when removed, the less shock it is to the plant. However, if you want sprays of flowers, do not disbud but leave them to grow. The plants will be at different stages of growth, depending on variety, so it is a question of doing the disbudding all through midsummer as they become ready, rather than all at once.
can also be disbudded in the same way and for the same reasons; the more sideshoots you allow on a plant the smaller the flowers. can carry more blooms of a reasonable size than chrysanthemums and less disbudding per stem is needed, usually only the removal of the two side-buds just below the top one. If each plant has many sideshoots the lower ones can be removed to good effect and the plant allowed to carry the remainder.
Continue tosweetpeas as in early summer and plants where necessary, including hippeastrums; these may start to die down now and when they do, feeding should stop. Cacti not potted in spring may need one liquid feed in mid-summer. Lawns on can have another half-strength powder feed, but not if the weather is hot and dry, because the grass is likely to be burnt. In these weather conditions it will not be growing much, so food is rather superfluous. Early autumn is the time when lawns should be given close attention, to put them in good condition for winter.
Sweetpeas that were planted in early spring can be layered now to prolong their lives, by detaching them all completely from their canes, laying the stems along the ground beside the row of canes and then training the stem up the fourth or fifth cane along from the original support. The last few plants can have the canes from the beginning of the row transferred to them. In this way, they will have another 60cm (24in) of cane to climb up and so produce more flowers.
Beardedcan be divided if not already done.
Border carnations can be layered and this is done as follows. Choose a new shoot which has not flowered, take of] the leaves up to within about 10cm (4in) of the tip and then make a slanting cut just below a leaf joint, partially through the stem on the side which will be closest to the soil. Bend the stem until it touches the soil, pin it down with a bent wire just before the cut, and then gently pull the end of the stem more or less upright so that the cut is open and in contact with the sandy compost which you now put over and round the cut stem. The upright part of the stem can be attached to a small support. Rooting should occur within a few weeks.
Mid-summer is the time to take regal pelargonium, as they finish their flowering season now and new shoots suitable for cuttings will begin to lengthen.
Watering-Give water where needed to all outdoor plants and in particular keep the lawn well supplied with water; using a sprinkler is best. Give sweetpeas a good soaking at intervals in dry weather. Water hippeastrums less and less as the leaves begin to wither but continue to water other greenhouse plants as they need it. Do not neglect your freesias in pots outdoors, nor any plants in frames, such as cinerarias or primulas; they will all need water. Cinerarias are very prone to wilt in hot sun and must have lots of water at these times.
Little will be required, but pansy seedlings are easily swamped by weed seedlings germinating with them, so watch these right up until they need transplanting. Lawns can still be treated for weeds but preferably not in hot, dry weather; however, in such weather they are no more likely to be growing, with one exception, than the grass is. It is in cool damp summers that weeds cause most trouble and it is then that hormone weedkillers are most effective. The one exception is the yellow-flowered sucking clover, which spreads rapidly in hot weather and on sandy soils. As it is an annual, removal before flowering will do a great deal to prevent its appearance the following year. Hand removal is usually sufficient but a selective weedkiller can be used, if need be.
Continue to mow (without the collecting box in dry conditions), make the compost heap and deal with pests and diseases as in early summer. Keep the greenhouse well damped down and ventilated.