With all the rain we’ve been having lately, it means that either you’ve got a really lush garden, or if you’re one of the unlucky ones who’ve had it really bad, something that resembles more of a swamp, but, at the height of summer (!) it is important to continue to tend to all the jobs necessary to maintain a healthy garden throughout July, August and the rest of the seasonal year.
We simply don’t have the column space for everything you need to be doing, but here are just some of the tasks you should be thinking of:
Dead-heading is one of the most frequent, subtle and effective forms of maintenance for repeat-flowering perennials and bedding plants – it ensures healthy growth and the promise of further blooming of the flowers in question. After all, spending a lot of money on planting acres of beautiful flowers is all well and good, but, unless those flowers bloom continuously, you’re not getting the true value and will miss out on a summer long show of colour. Ensure you take the whole flower head, including the base, so that it doesn’t get the chance to set seed, otherwise you’re wasting your time!
One of the most popular climbing plants, the Clematis, is highly susceptible to wilt fungus, particularly the larger flowering examples of the species. Commonly the fungus will cause rapid wilting of the plant’s foliage and stems – in severe cases, or without due attention, it can lead to the death of the plant. You can spot the onset of Clematis wilt by the discolouration of both the stems and their leaves, newly affected areas will show blackened patches. As soon as you see this, cut out the affected parts and get rid of them. The best means to prevent this blight in the first place is to ensure that your cultivar is planted in deep, fertile soil, at least 15cms above the soil level in the pot, so as to provide adequate encouragement for strong, healthy root growth. If you’re concerned about the fertility of your soil then some light turning of organic mulch into the ground should provide a welcome nutrient boost to the plant. You could also plant varieties that are less susceptible to wilt, such as the montanas, alpinas, or the viticella types.
This is an obvious entry for a list of summer jobs but no less important for it, but it would be all too easy to take the heavy-handed approach of daily watering of all the plants. However, Britain frankly doesn’t have the fluid to spare this summer, if the hose pipe ban we were exposed to in the earlier months of this year wasn’t clue enough. Conversely this should not mean that your plants wilt from drought either – common sense obviously applies. Giving a thorough watering once a week is better than a light sprinkling every day, although plants in pots may need watering every day in dry spells. Ensure that you lift the foliage of bushier plants too, so that water isn’t uselessly evaporated upon the leaves instead of reaching the roots.
Another vulnerable area of the garden, particularly during the summer months, is the lawn which can turn brown and crisp after just a few days neglect. To ensure that your lawn remains healthy, green and lush throughout the hot season get in early with a quick-acting summer feed and water once a week in dry weather, although it should be remembered that lawns will soon recover once we get a drop of rain. If like us though you’ve had a lot of wet weather, you’ll probably find your grass is tall and lush, so keep up with the mowing on dry days, otherwise, if you leave it too long, when you do cut it, you might find it turning brown underneath!
Off the Woodwork
Finally, as a change to all the preventative measures we’ve suggested, we have a job that actually takes advantage of this hot weather rather than shying away from it; the vast majority of domestic gardens have some form of carpentry. Be it decking, fencing, sculpture or just the plain old garden shed, nearly every home garden you can think of will have some timber that is exposed year in year out to the elements, so, while the sun is shining, why not take the opportunity to reapply a good layer of paint or sealant to aid the durability of these structures. It is essential these tasks be carried out in fair weather as it gives the sealants time to bond to the wood before damp can halt the process, and what time like the present?
By Josh Ellison