June arrived like a steam roller and awoke all the plants and weeds which had paused in suspended animation after a slow start to the year with snow, followed by more snow. The seasons did not follow tradition. So each plant needs to be treated on how it is performing now not what it usually does at this time of year.
Now July has arrived in the midst of a mega heatwave and drought. The ground has not been this parched for a very long time. Water butts have all run dry. It feels like mission impossible just trying to keep plants limping through this period. Literally every drop is precious.
Many plants are in their element right now and many sadly are not. I am sure we have all accumulated a few casualties by now. This is my gorgeous Pansy 'Black Jack' which I proudly grew from seed only to discover it cremated yesterday!
So the main job of the month is watering. Pots are particularly vulnerable in hot weather as plants cannot push their roots deeper into the ground to search out lower water supplies, so keep on it! Move pots to a shadier part of the garden to try and reduce scorching from direct sunlight.
Conserve or recycle any water you can, from cooking or cooled down unused kettle water. Best time to water is early morning or evening when the temperatures are lower and you won't risk leaf scorch with accidental spills or water waste through evaporation. Ideally use rainwater as tap water contains chlorine but as water butts run dry, we cannot afford to be fussy, use whatever is available.
Feed, feed, feed. Flowering and fruiting plants are working overtime now. As long as the plants are watered, they will be able to absorb the nutrients.
Remember to keep bird baths topped up and put out a shallow dish with a stone in or something raised as a landing pad for bees. They need to drink too.
These passed few weeks have been a delight as well as challenging in the exotic temperatures. Everyday whilst gardening I have been amazed and surprised at the wonderful wildlife is right under our noses. Here are some of the highlights... makes you wonder what else was hiding in the undergrowth?
Many gardening jobs span the summer but the main mantra is water, water, water!
Refresh pots and create colourful new hanging baskets with Pelargoniums, Begonias, Dichondra silver falls, Hedra helix gold trailing (Ivy), Nepeta trailing, Petunias trailing, Nasturium, strawberries and succulents to name a few. Seek out drought resistant plants - this will help your displays survive heatwaves and holidays.
With holidays in mind and fast approaching ask a friendly neighbour if they can do a little watering for you whilst you are away. Always unfortunate that most gardens are climaxing around August during the summer holidays when people may be away.
Plant out summer bedding and homegrown seedlings that have matured. I am sure by now you have made space in the greenhouse by moving plants to their final home for the year.
Deadhead roses, peonies, pinks, geum… stop summer flowering plants going to seed to prolong flowering period and promote more buds developing.
The cutting garden – pick flowers regularly to encourage new growth and ensure a constant supply. Regularly pick Lathyrus odoratus (sweet peas) to stop them going to seed and prolong flowering period.