The long periods of lockdown have not really been a great hardship for the keen gardener. After nearly three months of dry sunny weather then a fortnight of heavy rain the garden has never looked better. Weeds were slow to get started so plants had little competition and as long as the hose kept the plants watered in the dry months everything in the garden was rosy.
The spring display was brilliant
and lasted a long time but now it is the summer flowers turn to
brighten up the garden.
|Anna securing the cordon sweet peas|
Roses all made an early start but the dry spell brought on some mildew as well as plagues of greenfly.
Then just as they were just getting into
the first flush the gales arrived and numerous heads on bush and
climbers got broken off. However they are now recovering and soon
they will be getting their second flush. Hopefully summer weather
with a wee bit of global warming will be in their favour. Flowering
shrubs seemed less affected by weather and Philadelphus a mass of
scented white flowers has been amazing and very long lasting. Yellow
Senecio greyi and pink Cistus purpureus and Silver Pink as well as
Genista and the golden broom Cytisus praecox all flowered well as the
long dry spell really suited them. I have several outdoor Fuchsia Mrs
Popple in borders and the less hardy fuchsia Swingtime in pots all
enjoying this weather all full of flowers.
In the herbaceous border the Oriental poppies, Peonies and Bearded Iris are now over but Shasta Daisies, Delphiniums, Day Lilies, and
|Geraniums and Petunias|
Oriental lilies are now taking over. They are all self supporting except the Delphiniums and the taller Oriental Lilies which all require to have supporting canes. I use some Oriental Lilies as dot plants in tubs to add height to the summer bedding plants and with their exotic perfume they are perfect near entrance doorways and on the patio. The lockdown may confine us to be near home, but this gives us plenty time for garden work to keep weeds under control, carry out essential watering, staking and as flowers fade continual dead heading. Spring flowering pansies removed from tubs and hanging baskets in May were carefully replanted in bare areas amongst other plants as they always continue to flower into mid summer. However I identify the best white, yellow and blue colours and save seeds for growing on young plants for next years display.
|Geraniums Petunias and Nemesia|
|Yellow cactus dahlia|
A wide mixture of summer bedding plants are used for tubs, hanging baskets and any bare areas in flower, shrub and herbaceous borders. The red geraniums have been outstanding as the long sunny spring was perfect for them. I had plenty of spare plants as I keep my own stock of best colours from cuttings in autumn, then as these grow I take out the tops to keep them bushy and use these as more cuttings. If you continue with this practise you can have a lot of plants by the end of spring ready to plant out.
These are brilliant for tubs and
hanging baskets along with Nemesia Carnival and Petunias. Tuberous
begonias are my favourite in tubs and borders, though they are later
in starting to flower. This year the flowers seem a lot bigger than
normal, so must be liking our weird weather. Sweet
peas and Dahlias grown for cut flower on the allotment are now
providing plenty of flowers to take home though gladioli and
chrysanthemums will come into bloom a bit later.
|Locked down but still smiling|
|John tops up the compost heap|
Wee jobs to do this week
Early summer is the time to clean up the garden after the spring display of bulbs and spring flowers has finished. The old foliage from bulbs and spent spring bedding plants together with grass cuttings and ample rhubarb leaves can all be added to the compost heap. Recent heavy rain has been brilliant in helping to keep the heap moist to allow the worms to start converting plant remains into well rotted compost. To help them out turn the compost over so that the fresh material is buried by some old compost. It helps if all the old plants have been chopped up before adding to the heap.