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July 2008

June 2008

Clematis providing a star turn

Purple clematis
it's a great time of the year for stunning flowers and Clematis are one of the show stoppers that are flowering their hearts out at the moment.  They are unfortunately one of the hungriest and thirstiest of the climbers, and could do with a little bit of attention to provide their excellent display.  Make sure they get a good drink if the weather continues dry, particularly if they are in the rain shadow of a house, - or check that any downpipes from roofs run into flower beds or waterbutts at this time of year to catch any small showers.  Rose feed is an excellent high potassium food that Clematis need to produce their flowers, and feed them every couple of weeks over the next month or two.  The other thing that clematis like is a shady root and their tops in the sun, - so if you can see the base of the clematis, consider covering it with stones to provide some shade, or plant around it (being careful not to disturb any roots)

Thirsty fruit and veg

i've just come in from the garden, - it's 9pm and it's still light enough to work out there, so we've just been planting more beans, tying in the tomatoes, weeding around the raspberries and lots of watering.  This is the key time of year for growth of fruit and vegetables, and although your flower borders shouldn't need any extra watering, your fruit and veg will need a good soak a couple of times a week unless we have heavy rain.  Particularly thirsty veg are Courgettes and Lettuce and Raspberries and strawberries need a good drink to ensure big plump fruits. Morning and evening are the best times to water, and it's the roots not the leaves that need it so make sure you aim at the base of the plant.  A lance is best for watering, on a gentle spray, rather than a nozzle which can blast away the soil from around the supporting roots if you are not careful.

Filling up my borders

I've got round to preparing the first of my new flower borders, (well Ashley my husband and William with his dumper truck have done all the physical stuff) so I now have a virgin earth border to plant this weekend.  The space for my first flower planting is under our front window, and since we've moved in, there has been a heap of rubble and stones there.  Now with them removed and the grit and muck that was underneath the pile taken out, we've added in a tonne of topsoil to provide a great planting environment for some sun loving flowering perennials

I'm always on the lookout for suppliers that consistently give good products and services, and i'm very pleased to report that having used the topsoil from Bury Hill on four occasions now, i'm happy to recommend them.  i've used their premium grade topsoil for  vegetable and herb beds, for putting down under turfing and now for my border as well, and they've always turned up promptly when they said they would and delivered their tonne bags with a minimum of fuss.  If you need to fill up your borders or planters then look on

Look out for spaces

wow this is a busy time of year, and i've just realised I havn't posted for a whole week.  We've been very preoccupied with ensuring that our clients gardens are looking good for the summer, and this is the time of the year when gardens should be at their blooming best.  As the plants are currently at their boldest, this should be the month when you can easily spot where there are gaps in your border.  It could be that your garden has had it's spring flush, and now the daffodils and bluebells have faded and withered, there is space for something else. It could be that the weeds have taken over, and when they are removed, there's no flowering matter to fill its space.  Either way, it's time to fill those holes in your border.  if they are spaces at the front, try Erigeron, - the pink and purple daisy, or geranium macchorizum with its scented foliage.  If it's in the middle of the border, try some instant colour with rudbeckia goldstrum, or Penstemons,  If you need something taller, - try Veronicastrum, Helenium and Verbena Bonariensis. 

Blooming Bindweed

June is the month for a few leaves of bindweed to become a flowering invasion.  While the white convolvulus family flowers may look pretty from a train window, if you have bindweed in your garden, it can climb and strangle your precious plants and make a complete nuisance of itself.  The solution, is to let it do what it does best, - climb.
When you find a patch of bindweed, stick in a bamboo cane next to it, - this will encourage it to grow up the cane rather than twist itself around your plants,- when you have a cane full of green twining leaves (and probably some flowers as well) that is the time to bring in the chemicals. - The great thing about this is that you can use a spot weedkiller such as Roundup or the new to the market foam systemic weedkillers, which mean that your bindweed takes a concentrated dose of killer back to its roots, but you don't spray it onto anything else in the vicinity, making sure that you use less chemical and that there is no residue in the soil.  Within a week, the cane should have a not so attractive swath of dead leaves on it, and your plants will be safe for strangulation for another season.

Hanging basket watering

if you are like me, and hang up your baskets by your front door, and then watch them whither as the summer goes by and every time you open the front door with hands full of shopping, work bags and kids packed lunch boxes, you think "I must water that" only for it to completely pop out of your head the moment you cross the threshold, here is my top tip for watering.
It involves milk bottles, - either the delivered by the milkman glass type, or the plastic bottles in 1, 2 or 4 pt type. When you go to rinse it out, to recycle in either your plastic council box, or to put by the front door for the milkman to collect, - don't take it to your recycling point empty, -fill it again and use that water for your hanging baskets, - A hanging basket in a usual summer week (i'e not drought conditions) will keep looking fresh with 3 to 4 pints of water a week.  If it does completly dry out, take it down and soak it in a washing up bowl for half an hour to rehydrate it, and then you back to your milk bottle rounds!

Flowering Elder

This is the time of year when the Elder is flowering in the Hedgerows, and if you're organised, you can pick the flowers to make Cordial. I've been reminded by a friend (thanks Fiona) that there is a good recipe for Elder flower cordial in the River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall (page 471).  Elder(Sambucus) is a large tree that has a great foliage,  but if you have a small garden, you could always use one of the purple leaved forms, such as Sambucus Guincho Purple which don't overtake and produce pink tinged flowers.

Unfortunately most gardens that we've visited in the last couple of weeks have another kind of flowering Elder, - Ground Elder.  This is a creeping perennial weed, that if allowed to take hold can smoother all the other plants in its way.  At this time of year when it is growing at its fastest, and particularly if it is flowering, just rip the green growth off, and don't compost it.  you will need to do this 3 or 4 times in a season to decrease its virulence, and then you need to get out the roots to get rid of it completely.- Even if you don't have time to get it all out, - go round and rip off the flowering heads, - Ground Elder will grow enough through its spreading roots, you don't need it seeding as well!