Summer Garden Jobs

In previous pages on this site we’ve had a look at the different types of location and soil required by garden plants, at ways in which to plan beds and borders in relation to the size and shape of different types of plants, and at the immense range of colours and textures available among annuals, biennials, perennials and shrubs. Here we consider all these matters in the context of time: how to organise work in the garden during summer.

SUMMER

JUNE

We seldom get a flaming June, but the sun will be at its strongest, and this is often the driest month. Watering becomes more demanding and those who have not been able to mulch the newly planted will have to work overtime with the hose once the sun has gone down.

Staking is essential: a sudden storm can play havoc in the border and ruin a year’s endeavour. All herbaceous plants will be growing freely and will benefit from a feed of fertilizer or a drink of liquid manure. The gardener, anxious for first-class blooms, will have to pay attention to disbudding roses and border carnations. This entails keeping the large terminal buds and dismissing all smaller competitors. Now that summer has come, the pot-grown camellias and others previously kept indoors or in a greenhouse will enjoy a blow in the garden.

The rose-spraying programme that starts at the beginning of May must go steadily ahead fortnightly until the beginning of October. Blackspot can be treated with bupirimate and triforine, mildew with benomyl.

A whole host of hardy border plants, such as pinks (Dianthus), delphiniums, lupins, peonies, day lilies (Hemerocallis), and oriental poppies (Papaver orientale) burst into flower this month, together with many of the hardy annuals sown earlier. New shrubs to flower include the early Dutch honeysuckle (Lonicera), potentillas, weigelas, hypericums, the climbing hydrangea, the potato-vine (Solatium crispum), jasmine nightshade (Solatium jasminoides), Buddleia alternifoli, and B. globosa. One of the glories of June, however, is the roses, which make a tremendous show of colour – even those planted the previous autumn and spring making a fine display.

Complete planting beds and borders with tender plants, including dahlias, cannas, and other bedding plants, as early as possible. Trim back brooms (Cytisus), aubrieta, and heaths (Erica) as they finish flowering to keep them bushy. Check upright conifers to ensure that they have not produced competing shoots at the top. Remove dead flowers as they fade from roses, annuals, and border plants as they fade.

JULY

July does not always have the highest tempera-tures and the hottest days of the year. We can generally count on some very hot days in the’ South and South-West, but the fine weather may break up with a thunderstorm accompanied by rain or hail. Westerly winds may lead to July being one of the wettest months of the year.

Meanwhile, the flower garden should, in theory, be a riot of colour. Dead-heading must be done daily, otherwise plants will lose interest in flowering and put all their energy into seeding. The tendency to seed is particularly evident in the short-lived annual.

Plants are still making rapid growth and will benefit from a feed of liquid fertilizer. Established roses will relish a pick-me-up after their first flush. Geraniums and other spring cuttings that are now well rooted should be moved on to 150 mm (6 in) pots before they become cramped and pot-bound.

The butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) blooms, together with hypericums, the daisy bush (Olearia x haastii), Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa), the climbing Schizofragrna integrifolia, many of the later-flowering, large clematis cultivars, and the dainty yellow Clematis tangutica. Extra colour is provided in borders by white Chrysanthemum maximum, the pink, daisy-like cone-flower (Echinacea), the blazing star (Liatris), and knotweeds (Polygonum). Border phlox also burst upon the scene, together with the brilliant purple Salvia nemorosa, dwarf dahlias, and all the summer bedding plants.

AUGUST

This month’s weather usually follows July’s pattern. Atmospheric conditions are often similar and the two months add up to a fine or wet summer. Although autumn has not yet shown signs of taking over, plants and trees have lost their youth and many are becoming overgrown and blowsy. If rainfall is low, regular watering will be called for, but the heavy dews will help to replace plant transpiration.

If you visit nurseries or garden centres, look out for the lovely Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria ligtu) hybrids in pink, coral, yellow and buff that flower through July and early August. Other plants worth tracking down are the beautiful, if not fully hardy ‘Southern Belle’ hibiscus from Japan and the fuchsias from America. Other plants worth finding are the dignified Eremurus or foxtail lily, the Magnolia grandiflora (the unique evergreen of the family), presenting its immense sweet-scented flowers just now, and the Californian poppy (Romneya coulteri) with grey-green foliage and petals of white, crinkled ‘paper’ that surround a golden centre.

Dainty Japanese anemones, golden rod (Solidago), ice plants (sedum) and tuberous dahlias take over the display in beds and borders as earlier plants pass out of bloom. Knotweeds (Polygonum) show their attributes now, and the charming dwarf Cyclamen neapolitanum adds to the display. It is also the month when the spectacular trumpet vine (Campsis X tagliabuana ‘Mme Galen’) opens its red trumpet flowers after a hot summer, and the bedding plants reach the peak of their display, as do some late cultivars and species of clematis.

Plant early-flowering bulbs, such as crocuses, fritillarias, chionodoxas, the dwarf bulbous irises, daffodils, and narcissi for a display next spring. Also set out autumn crocus (Colchicum) bulbs as soon as they arrive.

01. July 2013 by admin
Categories: Featured, Garden Management, Top Tips | Comments Off on Summer Garden Jobs

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