Let it blos­som, let it grow

The Southland Times - - Weekend -


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.

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