“Plants want to live, their ‘raison d’être’ to bloom, attracting pollinators, ensuring that their legacy in the next generation lives on. We don’t really need to do much more once planted - every week get out with the hoe, feed the plants late in the evening, tie in growth and always be deadheading. But most of all, take every opportunity to lay amongst those flowers and take some in for the table. And repeat.” From June, Cambridge Edition
Tweak, zhush, nurture are the watchwords for this time of the year. Help those plants that are dying back or lifting to bloom and try to avoid turning the soil too much to retain moisture.
Three for the Weekend -
1. Your flowering annuals will be beginning to flower now, if not in full performance so keep deadheading, tying in and feeding once or twice a month. The warm weather and sporadic showers are loved also by the other plants you don’t want, like nettles which are about to flower. I leave a few around the bee hives for the butterflies but I don’t want the gardens overrun as they seed so at this point I will pull and clear as much as I can, chop the tougher stems a little and add to the compost heap. Nettles are nitrogen rich, the nutrient required for leaf growth. I also have nettles seeping in water which absolutely stinks but is a great tonic for a quick boost to plants; used as a feed, diluted to a weak tea all around the garden and especially to those annuals that could do with help bulking up.
The long border and polytunnel in the Braybrooke Garden.
A mix of annual and perennial weeds soaking in water to kill of seeds and roots. These will be added to the compost heap and the water diluted to a 'tea' to feed.
2. Herbs can run to seed quickly in this weather. I use them as scented foliage a lot in wedding bouquets and boutonnieres. They are best in arrangements when they are flowering as they condition and hold up better but once they seed, the plants will die back and the leaves taste bitter. Chop soft herbs back hard as they flower - they will return in a few weeks with fresh tasty growth. Save some stems, strip back most of the leaves and leave in jam jars of water on a bright windowsill indoors. Plants like marjoram, basil and mint will root in water and create new plants as will woody rosemary.
Four different mints in the gardens.
Foliages including scented geranium, rosemary, marjoram and mint with pea tendrils.
3. If you are lucky enough to have a spring flowering shrub like viburnum opulus, weigelia or philadelpus, you will know that they flower on last years growth. To promote a brilliant display next year, you’ll want to prune now. Don’t shorten the length but take out up to a third of branches right back to the base. This kind of pruning is more considered than taking the trimmers round the outside which only creates large lumps of plants blobbing in the borders. Instead, opening up the centre will allow air in for new growth and soften the shrub. Twinkling light through the branches for a far softer backdrop to your garden. Do this every year with a deft touch and you can renew an old plant back into vigour and shape as well enjoy as a beaufilty flower display year after year.
Flowers from lilac and viburnum opulus in April. The shrubs are best pruned now.
The Walled Garden where the annuals and dahlias are planted, rising up through the netting to flower.
Tiny flowering peachy climbing rose. I forget the name!
Plants waiting to be planted this weekend.
Have a great weekend, Anna