By Glyn Smith Head Gardener at Erdigg Hall National Trust Garden
The gardening year is catching up after the cool spring, but I estimate it is at least a month behind on last year. June has been quite dry and plants have been stressed. The recent rain has helped bedding and veg. to settle in and start to grow. The weather in July can be so unpredictable. You just don’t know whether St. Swithin will rear his head or not. Every weather forecast seems to suggest hot weather is due and it will be a dry and sunny month, so make sure you water hanging baskets and pots regularly, morning is the best time, then they may last until the evening without drying out. Give them another watering in the evening. If you can, occasionally take them down and give them a good soak, adding liquid fertilizer at the same time.
How about sowing some Sweet Williams to flower next summer, now is the time. They make wonderful, scented, cut flowers too. It is also time to sow Wallflowers and later in the month Pansies and Forget-me-nots for next spring. Perennial herbaceous plants can also raise from seed sown now. Early spring perennials, like Polyanthus, Pulmonarias, and Irises, can also be increased by division after flowering.
Don’t forget to dead head those roses. Depending on their vigour, prune them back about 20 centimetres, to a strong leaf after the flowers fade. There may even be a young shoot just starting to break around there. Look out for black spot, mildew and rose rust too, apply a rose fungicide to prevent further infection, or spread. Pick Sweet pea flowers regularly too and don’t let them go to seed, or they will stop flowering.
Late spring flowering shrubs, like Philadelphus and Weigela, can be pruned after flowering. Hedge cutting starts in earnest this month too.
As the weather gets drier, raise the cutting height of the lawnmower and cuttings can be allowed to stay on the lawn.
In the vegetable garden, potatoes will need earthing up. Leeks and winter greens can be planted out. All over Europe there are problems with vegetables and fruit. Some farmers have sown crops a second time and still nothing has grown. Fruit has had a poor set too. Sow regular crops of salads. Boost tomatoes with liquid feed. And look to getting the best from your vegetable plots to save the cost of buying from the supermarkets.
Immature apple fall (June drop) should be ending soon. Thin out more of the crop if it is very prolific, to prevent branches breaking as the fruit swells.