Have some fun in the sun PROJECT 1: LAYERING
Here are a few jobs you could turn your hand to while the weather is good
THE weather has been a bit mixed recently but a hot spell will ensure garden growth is at a maximum. So here are a few meaty projects you should be getting your teeth into...
FIRSTLY some propagation. Hydrangeas are a well-loved shrub, adored for their beautiful summer blossoms. They’re a great choice for coastal gardens, seeming to weather salty winds very robustly.
You can propagate hydrangeas from cuttings but these can be tricky or very slow to root. An easier way is using a technique called layering. Pick a pliable stem which will easily reach the ground – nick it around a leaf bud as this is where growth hormones are concentrated, bury it in the soil holding it in place with a little metal hoop and give it some water. As it is still connected to the mother plant, the stem will still be supplied with food and water, much like an umbilical cord.
Layering is suitable for many other evergreens such as daphne, magnolia, camellia, rhododendron, viburnum, as well as climbers such as clematis, honeysuckle and virginia creeper.
PROJECT 2: TOPIARY
HOW about an attempt at the dark art of topiary? This is a method of shaping and manipulating plants by regularly cutting them. Not all plants are suitable for this treatment but the likes of buxus and yew respond magically.
Yew will need annual trimming, box bi-annual.
Buxus has been the king of topiary but has had problems in recent years because of box caterpillar, a pest, and box blight, which is a fungus, both of which destroy of the shrub’s appearance. Both problems need different treatments but feeding and keeping your plant healthy is the best way to prevent them in the first place.
What shape to go for is up to you but I’d keep it simple on your first attempt. Chicken wire or taut strings can help as a guide for shaping.
It’s best to start with small plants and grow them to your own desired shape – and use a sharp pair of shears as badly cut or damaged leaves don’t look good.
Choose a dry, overcast day for this project – if it’s too sunny, the leaves can scorch.
Regular feeding will help them to remain plump and shapely – you won’t go wrong with a seaweed liquid feed. Have a go and have fun Happy gardening!
PROJECT 3: PRUNING
CHERRY trees are very popular in gardens, putting on an uplifting annual display of floral clouds.
Unlike most fruit trees, they should not be pruned in winter due to the risk of bacterial canker and silver leaf disease entering open wounds, so this is a job for summer.
Only prune if necessary – your goal is to remove any branches that are dead, diseased or damaged. You can also remove branches that are crossing over each other but in general be cautious.
The more you remove, the longer the tree will take to recover and will produce fewer flowers and fruit the following year.
Turning a hedge into a family of marching elephants might be a little ambitious, but there are lots of small topiary ideas you could try Hydrangeas are adored for their summer blossoms
Hydrangeas are tricky to propagate from cuttings, instead you should layer from near a leaf bud