With the longest day approaching warm sunny days and long balmy evenings should be making your garden as a joyous place to be. All this heat and light means that it is full to brimming, with plants displaying fresh foliage and perfect new flowers. Although the garden is in full swing there is still plenty to be getting on with, as well as potential problems to look out for, so here are a few pointers to help you through the month!
We get quite exercised about watering at this time of year. Keeping on top of watering from June onwards in dry periods is essential at this time of year, and extra-especially so for containers and anything you have recently planted. Well over 90% of plants that fail in the year after they were planted do so for lack of water so please excuse the lecture. To be of any use, water has to get down to the roots of a plant. So wetting the surface is not enough when the roots can easily be 6-12" down. If in doubt, drench the plant to begin with - water well, go away, come back water well and repeat. Once the ground is properly watered it is actually easy to keep it that way. Don't water at all until it needs it. Scratch into the soil with a finger to a depth of about 2" (5 cms). If it is dry you need to water. otherwise leave well alone. A lot of water at wide intervals is much better for plants in the ground than little and often. Containers dry out much faster so it is important to water them more often. And please remember that the larger the plant, the longer it will take to establish and so the longer you will need to water it. Finally, when watering containerised plants, remember that they will need feeding every couple of weeks through the growing season. Fruit trees in pots will need a high potash feed now to encourage good crops.
By June, the bare root season is over but you can still buy potted plants to fill any gaps that may appear through the season – if you do just make sure that they are kept well watered until they are established! You can tell when this happens as the plant tends to put on a spurt of growth as its roots move into new soil. Deciduous plants here include copper or green Beech or Hornbeam, or for evergreen hedging Laurel, Eleagnus or Griselinia are all excellent options. If you are creating a formal garden then pot grown Yew and Box are also available.
There are very few plants that give as much in terms of flowering, colour, scent, foliage and trouble-free behaviour as Lavender and now is a great time for you to plant pot grown lavender - Hidcote is the quintessential English lavender planted this month or next it will race away and look fabulous towards the end of summer and great all next summer as well.
Pot grown lollipop Bay trees can be placed either side of a doorway and add a bit of style as well as the odd leaf for the chef of the house! They are good planted in the ground as well provided the soil is well drained and pyramid bays make a clear statement as markers on either side of paths.
If you already have some, keep an eye on their vigorous new growth and tie it in to their supports if necessary.
More slash than burn actually. Fast growing evergreen hedges such as Privet, Shrub Honeysuckle and Cotoneaster need to be clipped up to three times a year to keep them in shape. So if they are starting to look a little untidy they can be clipped now.
Repeat flowering roses should be deadheaded to encourage new blooms. If you did not do so in spring, then now is also a good time to give your roses a feed too with a good rose feed.
Hoe borders regularly to keep the weeds at bay. Remember to weed underneath your hedges too! Especially newly planted ones as weeds compete for moisture and can kill your plants as a result.
Lawns will need mowing weekly now - add at least some of the clippings to your compost heap. But be careful; mix them in with other vegetable matter or the heap can become slimy and smelly.
Cut back the dead foliage of bulbs in your borders and start mowing where they grow in grass. If you can replant them straight away lift and divide any clumps that are getting overcrowded or mark them with a cane for lifting and dividing this autumn.
Apply grease bands to young fruit trees or paint grease strips on to larger trees to protect crops from damage caused by earwigs and ants. Although it does not say so on the pot, fruit tree grease is brilliant at keeping earwigs off almost anything.
Plum fruit moth traps can be hung in the trees as an organic control to plum fruit moth damage.
Look out for blackspot, rust and mildew on roses, and mildew on fruit trees and soft fruit bushes. These can be treated with the application of a fungus killer.
But most important of all, make time to enjoy your garden while it is at its best!