Its always interesting looking back on my diary and what I wrote this time last year in Country Images Magazine. I wrote about how the rain just kept coming and it rotted the Rose blooms on the plants – it just shows that 2 years are never the same and you have to adjust your gardening habits to suit the growing conditions. I cannot remember the last time (I probably could if I looked in my diary) the last time I watered so much in May, June and July. I hope that August stays dry, but not too hot. Every year has its common bug problem that you see time and time again, this year without doubt it has been the scale insect.
There are several highlights of my horticultural year and one of them was this week with the HTA National Plant Show. This fantastic show is a chance to see all the latest varieties of trees, shrubs, climbers, houseplants, bedding plants and vegetable plants ….. Also it’s a great opportunity to see new gardening products and I saw a plant supplier than has embraced coir pots to sell plants in. An exciting idea as the plants seem to like it, the plant’s roots grow into the pot and can simply be planted on, grow pot and all so no plastic pot re-cycling issues but there is a down side – Cost.
Allotment or Vegetable Patch:
• Once onion tops start to die down they can be lifted.
• If ready pick your plums now; be careful how you handle them as they can bruise.
• Use netting on autumn fruiting raspberries or blackberries to protect them from birds.
• Pick early fruiting varieties of apples now.
• Feed fruit trees and bushes with liquid sulphate of potash, such as a tomato feed. This will work quicker especially if the leaves are looking very yellow.
• Buy onion sets now for autumn planting.
• Water celery and other crops regularly in hot, dry weather.
• Veg to sow now include swede, spring cabbage and beetroot for leaves, winter lettuce, radishes, coriander and Japanese onions.
• Sow green manure in any bare spaces in your plot.
In the Greenhouse:
• Pick off lower leaves from tomato plants so air and light can reach the fruit and water regularly to help prevent fruit splitting or blossom end rot.
• If it’s started to get warmer, look out for signs of red spider mite and treat with a systemic insecticide right away.
• Thin out weaker looking bunches of indoor grapes.
• Keep a look out for vine weevil beetles – usually crawling across paths or around the bottom of pots.
• If going on holiday this month, set up a watering area using a growbag tray and some capillary matting.
• Water down the greenhouse floor each morning on hot days to increase humidity.
• Open all vents and prop doors open on warm days to improve ventilation, this will help reduce fungal problems.
• Shade delicate plants on hot, sunny days to prevent scorch.
General Garden Maintenance:
• Carry on feeding lawns with a suitable fertiliser and moss killer.
• Keep mowing the lawn regularly and with the heavy rain fall of last month remember to keep spiking and sanding the lawn.
• Remember to water newly planted trees & shrubs well, if there is a lack of rain.
• Feed any established trees & shrubs with a suitable granular fertiliser.
• Check roses for signs of black spot, take off infected leaves and treat with fungicide. Remember not to compost any diseased leaves, always put them in the garden waste bin.
• Apply bark mulches around newly planted or established trees & shrubs to help suppress weeds.
• Top up bird baths regularly with fresh water.
• If available in your local garden centre or plant nursery, plant any spring flowering bulbs now.
• After all the rain some summer bedding will look very tired – dig these up and put them in your compost heap.
3 Plants that impressed me at the show were:
Rehmannia ‘Walburton’s Magic Dragon’ (Chinese Foxglove) was one of the standout plants of the show and a plant I’ve never heard of. It has been in the breeding stages for 8 years and is now a hardy plant that has large pink trumpet flowers from spring to late autumn. This will reach only three to four feet and like other herbaceous plants dies down in winter to return the following year.
Available in garden centres and plant nurseries next year!
Hydrangea Black Diamond ‘Baroque Angel’ (blue). There were 8 new varieties of hydrangea this year at the show. This variety, which won a silver medal, has deep purple almost black leaves and dark blue / purple flowers. The compact growth of this range of hydrangea makes it perfect for a container. Other varieties in this range to look out for are Hydrangea Black Diamond ‘Dark Angel’ (red) – Hydrangea Black Diamond ‘Red Angel’(deep pink). These hydrangeas are currently available.
Clematis ‘Prince George’ – there is normally a well-bred clematis at the show that flowers prolifically, this is an easy to grow one with masses of pure white flowers and ideal for a pot. This plant is currently available.
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