I've been enjoying early mornings and late evenings in the gardens this week since that is the only time I can bear to be in them!
3 top tips for the weekend are -
In this weather, about the only thing you can do is water.
I am cursing not putting drip tape and soaker hoses on every bed as we planted on. Those beds that do have these are in the best shape. Watering this way, a slow drip of moisture onto the soil, allows the soil to absorb and hold onto moisture for far longer. By contrast, when a sprinkler is used, most water is thrown in the air, onto leaves and evaporated. Little will fall beyond the 'drip shadow' leaving plants still without water!
We are fortunate to have very high water pressure so the most effective and efficient way to water the garden here is in something that can be done in companionable teams. We set up two watering cans off the double taps and run back and forth with the cans that are emptied marginally slower than filled, creating a production line. Tip a cup of comfrey feed in to help with stress and it's a winner. This way water is directed exactly to where it is needed.
Top tips - water pots daily, if not twice a day. Keep seedlings moist with a sprayer and use capillary matting beneath the tray to hold water. Water deeply once a week, twice for us at the moment. Spot water those plants that look extra stressed. Best to water in the evening so it lays around a bit and slowly absorbed over night in the cool. Next best in the morning. Watering in the daytime doesn't hurt plants or scarce as you might think, but it will encourage surface rooting and led the plant to be reliant on regular watering.
The ideal of course is to encourage plants to root deeply, reaching for ground water by promote healthy soil whereby the fungi can distribute water naturally.
2. Cut back
Any branches and stems that are so stressed that leaves have crisped up and died. Give plants a good watering afterwards. Some plants are recovering after a good cut back and water, sending flowers up again. All the lavender and geraniums have been trimmed back.
3. Stake and tie in
The tall rudbeckias and asters have had catch up staking this week. When they are about to drop and fall on the ground, the solution is not pretty and I gather stems up in string and use metal rebar (the rods used for the protective tunnels over ranunculus in the winter!). The added benefit of staking plants does help them grow better too without having to put energy into thick sturdy stems but flowering instead.
Rebar rods with string to hold asters where they are planted in small groups of mixed borders.
This jute netting is used between thick 10x25mm stakes, stapled on, for cosmos, snapdragons, cornflowers and dahlias. This year we have set it lower in most places; supporting the lower growth, and much easier to cut down through. I think this encourages stronger growth too.
I love this rudbeckia, and even more in a months time as the petals drop and the buds are little brown 'nubs' on branches. These work beautifully with dahlias and last for weeks in the vase. This plant is over 7' high. Probably since it is one of the places I throw bucket water on from conditioning flowers (the rest goes directly onto pots or into the water butts dotted around).
5.30am this week. The absolute best time when the sun rises. The polytunnel has a glow up and the garden sparkles. Sun rise and sun set is utterly magical in the gardens since the plots are surrounded by houses and trees in different places so shafts of sun light escape between buildings and trees creating shadows. It's a surprise every year how dark it is in the mornings already.
Some of the flowers cut this week for bucket deliveries