With climate change be prepared for very varying and warmer weather conditions in summertime in the UK. Do not be surprised by some torrential downpours and possibly extra hot sunny days during June, July where some temporary shelter for flowering plants may be required.
Garden maintenance in Summer is unrelenting but easier if you do a quick tour round at the beginning of the week and make a list of all the jobs that need urgent attention.
Moisture retention Watering is needed every day at present after 8 weeks of mostly dry weather as soil soon starts to dry out whether its clay or especially sandy soil. The best way to overcome dry soil is to add organic mulch (manure preferably or compost or leaf mould) to flower beds and containers and water crystals especially to containers and if you plan to be away. They can save the container plant in a hot dry spell.
Powdery mildew is on the march right now ,this fungus loves dry plants and is attacking Camellia leaves.
Lawns require a high nitrogen liquid feed for greening up after a long winter and must be watered regularly during hot spells to avoid stress. Use a proprietry lawn feed with selective weed treatment it really will make a big difference.
Plants require a light all round liquid feed especially to prolong flowering. I recommend tomato food which is high in potash (potassium)to boost flowering and phosphorus feed to strengthen roots and stems helpful for vegetables. We forget that recent heavy winter and spring rains leach away much of these main nutrients.
Pruning especially of larger shrubs is vital to promote fresh growth and provide air and light particularly for neighbouring plants. Deadheading also has a big effect on prolonging flowering or the plant will start going to seed early!
Plant out summer bedding and bulbs, hanging baskets and containers. Pelargoniums are a wise choice for containers for busy people as they are not bothered about being watered. Strangely they actually dont like much water. Some rain will be sufficient.
Sow annual seeds into the ground, it’s really worth buying a packet ready prepared if time is short, and lightly cover over with soil. Add some string protection from birds but to help eliminate snails and slugs, collecting at night with a torch is very worth while if you can bear doing it with a jam jarand gloves! They love to decimate seedlings and plants especially Hostas, bedding plants and certain water loving plants such as Ligularia etc can be destroyed in days. Ours was!
Special Summer seeds for climbers It may help growing superb annual seeds Black eyed Susie, Chilean Glory Flower, Spanish Flag and not forgetting contrasting blue Morning Glory grown indoors and then to containers.
Don’t forget your choice of herbs grown from seeds so easy. Keep well away from soil level if you have severe slug and snail problems, use organic slug pellets reasonably priced now on the market , they hate them as the pellets absorb the slime and are gritty but do no damage to wildlife.
Liquidfeed ericaceous flowering plants especially, ericaceous flowering now, for Rhododendrons/Azaleas, Heathers, Enkianthus etc - it will make a big difference.
Semi ripe cuttings can be taken now, best in mornings into a plastic bag, and important to plant quickly with hormone rooting powder.
Greenhouses should be checked for over-wintering pests, red spider mite in particular. A thorough soapy sponge-down works well as pests and many diseases hate detergents. Allow plenty of air circulation in hot days and dampening down the floor is very important. Burn any diseased material, do NOT compost.
Enjoy flaming June and those quieter special garden moments!
Tony Arnold MCIHort