Let it blossom, let it grow
Raise blades on your lawn mower – longer grass is better able to withstand drought (should the promised long, hot summer arrive).
Plant flowers for bees and other pollinators, such as echinacea, echinops, lavender, Michaelmas daisies, salvias, solidago, and penstemons. Good herbs for the bees include basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
Sweet peas (like other legumes) flower best if picked regularly and often… the more you pick, the more they flower.
Pop in annuals to fill any gaps in the flower border. Or sow direct fast-growing, late-flowering hardy ones, such as alyssum, calendula, clarkia, cosmos, godetia, marigolds, nigella, and zinnia.
Mulch flower beds with compost or pea straw to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Tulips and hyacinths will benefit from a mulch to help keep the soil cool. Or lift the bulbs and store in a dry, cool place till replanting in autumn.
Keep deadheading roses and water deeply to ensure a second flush of blooms. When picking roses for the vase, make the cut just above a five-fingered leaf – and summer-prune the shrub at the same time! In repeat and continuous-blooming varieties, this will help ensure a great display into autumn.
Feed delphiniums with weak liquid fertiliser. Stake tall perennials to prevent wind damage to flower spikes.
Prune deciduous magnolias once in full leaf.
Feed indoor plants with a liquid plant food or a slow-release fertiliser, and step up watering.
Organise bird netting for berry fruits and cherries.
Plant out pumpkins, giving them rich soil, sun, moisture and plenty of space – one plant could (all going well) take up to three square metres.
Plant aubergines, cucumbers, melons, peppers, and cucumbers in rich soil in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot.
Water fruit trees deeply and regularly to encourage good-size fruit. Summer prune excess growth on pipfruit trees to contain growth and control tree size. As well, selective tip pruning of lateral branches improves the next year’s crop.
Summer-prune new gooseberry bushes. Aim for an open bush by removing the weakest inwardfacing branches.
Keep the base of fruit trees weed free – weeds compete with other plants for nutrients and moisture and, in extreme cases, light and airflow. They can also harbour pests and diseases. Remove weeds by hand then spread a 5cm layer of organic mulch – such as pea straw, compost or leaf mould – around the root zone but away from the trunk. Mulches also help the soil retain moisture.
– Mary Lovell-Smith
Leave grass longer, so it is able to withstand drought.