Cotswold Life

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Au­gust is a sleepy month for flow­ers. In hot weather blooms are shy to open and plants take a rest from the rapid growth of spring – even the veg­eta­bles can go on strike! But there are tricks to nudge tired bor­ders back into vi­brant life, in­clud­ing wa­ter­ing well along with care­ful feed­ing and be­ing brave with the se­ca­teurs.

Wa­ter­ing is an art worth do­ing prop­erly. Too lit­tle, too of­ten and plants develop shal­low drought-prone roots, so when wa­ter­ing bor­ders, check with a trowel that the top few inches are soaked be­fore putting away the hose and leave to dry be­fore flood­ing again. Evenings are the best time to ir­ri­gate as that way plants slake their thirst with­out com­pe­ti­tion from the dry­ing sun. Flood pots and bas­kets un­til wa­ter runs out of the drainage holes and only add liq­uid feed af­ter wa­ter­ing so as not to wash away the good­ness.

For an in­stant pick-me-up for yel­low­ing plants use liq­uid feed, as op­posed to slow re­lease gran­ules. Di­luted in wa­ter the growth-boost­ing nu­tri­ents are im­me­di­ately avail­able to roots. Use a gen­eral feed on flow­ers, but for crops like cu­cum­bers and mel­ons that crave potash, feed with tomato fer­til­izer (cu­cum­bers and mel­ons can’t read the la­bel!).

Dead­head roses and bed­ding reg­u­larly. If left, the spent flow­ers block pro­duc­tion of new blooms. While you’ve got the se­ca­teurs out prune the wiry side-shoots of wis­te­ria to five leaves from the main branches and snip the spent flow­er­heads, plus an inch or so of the leaves from the tops of English laven­der. They soon re­grow into tidy grey domes for win­ter. With bunny-eared French laven­der trim lightly all over be­tween flushes of flower.

Fix bare patches in hedges by train­ing in some of the shaggy spring growth from the sides. When it grows it will fill out the gap. Cut conifer, box and beech now too. Hoe weeds in dry weather, and give bor­ders a good blitz through.

On the veg plot, sow turnips and kohlrabi for nutty roots and pars­ley, chervil and coriander for au­tumn and win­ter pick­ings. Fi­nally, sow green ma­nures such as bee-friendly Phacelia tanaceti­fo­lia in bare patches to soil­iflock­nu­tri­entsin­tothe.

And there’s re­tail ther­apy too – it’s not too late to buy seeds and flow­ers to re­boot your veg plots and bring zing to your bor­ders. En­joy!

A plant that does what is says on the tin, bloom­ing from July right through un­til the frosts. He­le­ni­ums hark from the prairies of North Amer­ica, where the indige­nous peo­ple used the dried stems to make a sneeze-cur­ing snuff. In the here and now the flow­ers are a medicine for tired bor­ders, adding a shot of colour and food for the bees. Some he­le­nium are shoul­der­high, but ‘Sahin’s’ is so florif­er­ous it runs out of puff at 2ft so is ideal front and cen­tre of the bor­der. Plant in full sun and di­vide ev­ery few years to keep the clumps fresh.

look af­ter our feath­ered friends and keep bird baths topped up with fresh wa­ter.

 ??  ?? Look af­ter your sum­mer gar­den by wa­ter­ing it prop­erly
Look af­ter your sum­mer gar­den by wa­ter­ing it prop­erly
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