Out­door di­ary July’s check­list

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Carol Buck­nell. Illustrations by Pippa Fay.

The more you prune hy­drangeas, the bet­ter the flow­er­ing next sea­son. These shrubs can still be pruned in warm ar­eas, but in colder places wait un­til you’re cer­tain there’ll be no more frosts. Cut dead or spindly stems back to the ground and trim re­main­ing branches back to a pair of fat buds. Give bushes a side dress­ing of blood and bone and dig in a bit of com­post. Don’t throw all the trim­mings onto the com­post, though – use them for cut­tings so you’ll have new plants for gift­ing or to fill gaps in the gar­den in spring. Choose stems with around 5-6cm below a pair of leaves.

If you didn’t get around to tidy­ing up the gar­den at the end of sum­mer, get onto it now. Re­move old leaves and weeds as they are the per­fect hid­ing spots for pests. Spray cop­per mixed with spray­ing oil on roses and other shrubs to dis­cour­age fun­gal dis­ease and smother in­sect eggs.

Tidy up Di­etes species by re­mov­ing old leaves, but leave some of this sea­son’s flower stems to pro­duce more blooms in spring. Di­vide over­grown clumps, keep the newer out­side parts and com­post woody in­side bits. It grows eas­ily from seed so sprin­kle it wher­ever you’d like new plants.

Newly planted trees need look­ing af­ter when the weather is foul. Frost cloth is a must in cold ar­eas and stakes are im­per­a­tive for the first sea­son or two, par­tic­u­larly if wind is an is­sue at your place. Use 3-4 good, strong stakes in a tri­an­gle or square and tie with hes­sian sack­ing or an old stock­ing.

It’s a lit­tle late for plant­ing spring bulbs but you can still plant flow­er­ing sum­mer bulbs and tuber­ous peren­ni­als such as calla, canna, lilies, hip­peas­trum, glad­i­oli and ner­ine in warmer ar­eas at this time of year. Where heavy frosts are likely, dahlia tu­bers and glad­i­oli bulbs need to be dug up and stored in a cool, dry place.

Hedges can be planted in warmer ar­eas while the ground is moist and not too cold. This also gives shrubs time to es­tab­lish new roots be­fore growth slows down. Mark out a straight row with a string line and dig a trench around 50cm wide by 40cm deep. Mix com­post, well-rot­ted ma­nure and/or sheep pel­lets into soil well be­fore plant­ing.

Avoid prun­ing trees and shrubs like conifers and laven­der right back to bare wood as they of­ten won’t sprout new leaves. Roses are the op­po­site; a hard prune re­duces dis­ease and en­cour­ages more flow­ers. Al­ways cut just above an out­ward-fac­ing bud for roses and most other shrubs, slop­ing the an­gle of the cut away from the bud so that wa­ter won’t run into it.

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