Summer To-do list
A few key chores carried out this season will give you more bang for your buck in the flower garden. Keep weeds in check, stay on top of watering, and deadhead like it’s going out of fashion. Or better yet – pick blooms regularly for the vase. A summer bo
FLOWERS TO SOW • Ageratum, alyssum, antirrhinums,
asters, aquilegias, calendulas, 'Snowland' chrysanthemums, California poppies, candytuft, carnations, clarkia, cosmos, cornflowers, dianthus, English daisies ( Bellis perennis), foxgloves, gazanias, hollyhocks, larkspurs, linum, lupins, marigolds, mignonette, phlox, Queen Anne's lace, scabiosa, snapdragons, salvias, statice, stock, sunflowers, verbenas, verbascums and zinnias.
FLOWERS TO PLANT
• Seedlings: Asters, chrysanthemums, cosmos, dianthus, everlasting daisies, gazanias, geraniums, gerberas, nicotiana (ornamental tobacco), impatiens, larkspurs, marigolds, petunias, nasturtiums, phlox, salvias and zinnias. • Perennials: Alstroemerias, arctotis, cannas, campanulas, daisies, diascia, delphiniums, felicia, gaillardia, lavender and nemesias.
• Plant amaryllis (hippeastrums), colchicum (autumn crocus), cyclamen, haemanthus, lachenalias and nerines. • When bearded irises finish flowering, deadhead. Bend the stem in the direction that the rhizome's pointing – it'll snap off cleanly. • Lift spring bulbs once the foliage has died down. Store in paper bags in a cool, dry spot. • Divide daffodils every three to four years. Dig up the bulbs in December, set them aside to dry for two weeks, then remove the offsets.
Store in a cool, airy place before replanting in autumn.
• Cut leucospermums back reasonably hard, but not into bare wood. • Trim early-flowering rambling roses that have done their dash for the year. • Lavender likes a haircut. Without a regular tidy up, it ends up leggy and woody. Recycle the prunings as cuttings to grow free plants. • Train climbers uch as star jasmine, with a judicious snip here and there. Keep thuggish wisteria tentacles in check with loppers.
OFF WITH THEIR HEADS
• Summer's top job? Deadheading. Cut the spent blooms off all flowering plants or they'll turn their attention to seed production instead of continuing to dazzle. Lop the tops off all annuals (except big, single-headed sunflowers), dahlias, roses and perennials. Deadhead promiscuous seeders, such as false valerian and agapanthus, now too.
PICK FLOWERS TO DRY
• Helichrysums and their ilk retain the best colour if picked early summer.
SAVE SEED TO SOW
• The seeds of spring-flowering annuals, from honesty to poppies and sweet peas, will be ripening. Wait till the pods are fully dry before shaking the seed into paper envelopes to store, or scatter and let nature do the rest.
PESTS AND DISEASES
• Fungal diseases including black spot and powdery mildew rear their ugly heads in humid summer weather.
Improved air circulation decreases humidity, so avoid overcrowding. As soon as these diseases appear, use a commercial spray, or make your own by diluting 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1-2 litres water. Add a squirt of detergent to help it stick. • Thrips can be a nuisance for rhodos, roses, evergreen viburnums and other plants. When infestations are small, leaves take on a silvery tinge, with speckles. With severe infestations, leaves may turn brown and die, and plants become stunted. Severe infestations may benefit from a spray of insecticidal soap, particularly on the undersides of the leaves, where the thrips gather. Or spray with Mavrik. Repeat spray 10 days later. Alternatively, to deter thrips, spray the leaves with water – thrips like dry conditions. Keep areas free from grass and weeds, where thrips may reside.
KEEP YOUR COOL
• Heat-stressed annuals and perennials will stop flowering if that's what it takes to survive. Water deeply once a week and lay down mulch. If necessary, create shade in your garden. Plant shade trees or erect temporary sun barriers using shade cloth.
“That beautiful season the Summer! Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.” HENRYWADSWORTH LONGFELLOW