It’s now the season of sweet peas, soft fruit and bedding plants. This is such a wonderful time in the garden, with flowers in full bloom and plenty of harvesting in the vegetable patch to be done.
If you have water lilies in your pond they should be flowering soon. Each flower only lasts a few days, so as soon as blooms start to fade it’s a good idea to snip them off along with any unhealthy or yellow leaves. This will help keep your pond water clean. Other submerged oxygenating plants will be taking advantage of the sunshine and growing quickly, so it’s essential to thin them out. Remember to leave the trimmings at the side of the pond so any tiny aquatic creatures can slip back into the water.
A celebration of the fabulous Delphinium collection in the Walled Garden at Godinton House in Ashford will be taking place from 11th to 26th June. The Delphinium Society members will be on hand to offer expert advice and have delphiniums for sale 1pm until 4pm. For more information and to book tickets please visit godintonhouse.co.uk.
Ideas for Containers
New or old terracotta pots always look lovely, as do glazed pots within a modern garden. Newer materials such as aluminium also help to create a contemporary atmosphere. Recycling containers or converting old junk into new planters needn’t mean an unsightly display. Galvanised buckets, wheelbarrows, watering cans, cauldrons and other old kitchen receptacles look superb. Glazed sinks can be used along with other weird and wacky items can be used to create a very personal container. A mixture of material types, shapes and sizes will suit most gardeners, though others may prefer identical pots.
If you sowed courgette seeds earlier in spring, they should be ready for planting now. Courgettes are greedy plants, requiring plenty of water and nutrient-rich soil. They are also space-hoggers, which, if given the chance, will romp across the plot. Courgettes can be harvested when they reach around 10cm; if left longer, the flavour will have begun to fade. Cut the thick stem with a knife. There is nothing like the taste of fresh courgette, sliced and fried in butter, and the fl owers are a real delicacy.
Prune Soft Fruits
Raspberries, redcurrants, gooseberries, blackcurrants, tayberries and loganberries are exceptionally tasty, but if you want more and bigger fruit next year it’s worth doing some light pruning just as soon as they have fi nished cropping. Shorten the current season’s side branches back to five leaves and cut back main branches by one third. You’ll need to prune again in the winter. With loganberries, tayberries and summer-fruiting raspberries simply cut all the stems that fruited down to ground level to give space to new stems.
What to do now
- Water is the key word in summer.
- Prune soft fruit to get bumper crops.
- Keep deadheading. This may be a tedious task but is very essential to help plants produce more flowers.
- Feed hungry shrubs and roses.
- Divide bamboo and water lilies.
- Stay on top of the weeds.
- Clear the grass from around trees.
- Sow biennials such as foxgloves, sweet william, wallflowers and forget-me-nots.
- Sow late summer and winter crops such as cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers and lettuces.
- Refresh bird baths and top up ponds
Consider the Bees
It’s vital to attract bees in order to aid pollination of edibles. Many Mediterranean herbs produce concentrated sugary nectar in midsummer. Sage and lavender are both excellent bee plants for a sunny position. Rosemary will flower early in the year, while oregano is also excellent, especially in August, as it attracts butterfl ies as well as bees. Or consider growing some annuals. It’s not too late to sprinkle some pot marigold. Their bright orange flowers attract hoverflies and their predatory larvae clean up aphids and other small pests.