“It’s peak summer and hammock time. The experienced gardener is like a conductor of a huge orchestra; keeping the beat of the garden maintained, supporting harmony across the instrumental sections and punctuating the symphony with fireworks of delight from one hit wonders. A list of jobs for the month looks long but in reality it is all tweaking now. The hard work has been done.” July 2022
Some plants simply had to go.
Annuals planted out earlier in June, have struggled in the heat; some got away and flowering hard, others have stayed still. Probably a combination of being too small, ground too dry and days too hot. Late sown poppies and nicotiana have been whipped out of the beds and replaced with maturer nicotiana (grown on in the cool shady ‘nursery’ greenhouse) and achillea. These look much better especially as I planted them just before the rains so they have time to get over the shock of being planted in cooler temperatiures. The snapdragons suffered in the heat with long stems yet short flowering tops. I have cut these all hard down to lower new growth and feed. In a few weeks I hope to be cutting stronger flowers.
I've been picking the last of the foxtail lillies and polytunnel sweet peas and poppies. Outside the tobacco flowers are settled and flowering well, cornflowers, phlox, nigella, gaura, and echinops. Peak summer and I'm feeling good.
Three for the Weekend -
1. A nice one for the weekend - staking and tying in growth. We use a combination of canes for single plants like sunflowers or tomatoes with jute netting on strong wooden stakes or rebar (the rods I use to make hoops for the ranunculus). Set at about 12” high, this should be about right to hold most of the plants from cosmos, cornflowers, dahlias and chrysanthemums. Setting the supports at this height enables me to cut hard and deep into the plants without cutting the netting and encourages new growth to follow.
2. The roses have had their first flush of flowers and now slowing down. Perfect time for a tidy - dead head, trim back long stems and feed the plants. Ours have a lot weeds and grass at their feet so we have the extra task of weeding well and mulching the soil beneath. After a good watering, I am going to mulch with alpaca poo. I have never used it, I am excited to see and report back! Feeding this plants mid season will really help promote flowers for a second flush of flowers later this summer.
3. My watering schedule is -
Trays of plants inside - every day
Inside the polytunnel or greenhouse, pots outside - every other day
Outside beds - every week ONLY if there hasn't been a good rainfall.
After this weeks rainfall, I can have the week off watering outside. Strong and deeply rooted plants are more resilient in drier spells. If you water little and often, plants develop shallow roots at the surface of the soil which will dry out far quicker. Stress like this will impede flowering. Without a generous rainfall, I will water once a week, using that opportunity to give the monthly feed at the same time. A cup of homemade comfrey feed (or cap of seaweed feed) in a watering can will top up with potassium and trace elements to promote healthy growth and flowering.
Self sown poppies did far better than those that were sown and transplanted after May.