Gardens are a never-ending source of delight, and it’s one of life’s genuine pleasures to watch a garden grow and respond to the changing seasons, from buds to leaves to fruit to fall, and then the whole cycle beginning again. Not to mention the birds and butterflies that a well-tended garden attracts.
Summer time, and the gardening is easy! Well, it can be if you follow the tips in our latest blog. You’ll find loads of information on preparing for a spectacular display of blooms, controlling insects without harming the environment, and most importantly, how to be a waterwise gardener.
It's too late, sucker!
If aphids are a problem in your garden, it’s time to get your friends to help out. In this case, your best friends are small, red beetles with black spots: ladybirds (also known as ladybugs). These predatory critters dig aphids – for breakfast, lunch and dinner! They also enjoy eating pollen, and the best way to attract them is to provide food and water. Meet their needs, and they might just stick around – and that’s great news for your plants.
You can place shallow dishes of water in your garden for them to drink from, and plant flowering plants with the pollen they love. Some great examples are angelica, cosmos and marigold. Next, while it may seem counterproductive, you need to make sure there are aphids in your garden for them to eat. Slow down on the organic insecticides for a few days, or place decoy plants (to attract aphids) around the plants you really want to protect. Nasturtiums are a really effective aphid attractant. You can also ask gardening friends who are blessed with lots of ladybirds to help you – carefully take a few home and place them in the fridge for a couple of hours to slow down their metabolism before you release them into their new home. That way, they’ll be less likely to fly away. Releasing them at dusk or dawn also helps.
For a second line of defence, we stock some great organic insecticides including Ludwig’s Insect Spray and Margaret Roberts Organic Insecticide.
If you watched any of the tennis from Wimbledon on TV, you might have caught yourself imagining you could smell freshly-mown grass fly as Roger Federer did his think. Sadly, at this time of year, our lawns (and grass tennis courts, if you’re really lucky) aren’t quite up to Centre Court standards. There are a few tips to follow now, however, that can help you have a lawn that looks ace come summer.
One thing you can do this month is get your lawnmower serviced, so it will be ready to roll (or hover) when needed. If you have an electric mower, carefully check the cable for nicks or cuts in the insulation, and be sure to cover these up properly with insulating tape – safety first!
Take a stroll across your greens and fairways and keep a sharp lookout for any broad-leaf weeds, and when you see them, pull them up – roots and all. If deciduous trees have left a carpet of dead leaves, raking them up can cross two jobs off your to-do list at the same time. If you rake roughly, you’ll also scarify your lawn so water and nutrients can penetrate more easily. And don’t forget to add the leaves you rake up to your compost pile!
Your rake can also be used to spread a thin layer of lawn dressing evenly across your grass. The right ratio is one bag for every four square metres of lawn. Add fertiliser and water too, and watch it grow!
The list of bulbs and seeds that can be planted during August starts to sound like a Sesame Street song, with at least one beautiful flower for every letter of the alphabet… You’ll see what we mean in a moment. But before you start planting, make a sketch of your garden to help you plan what to sow or plant where. Pay particular attention to which spots are sunny and which are shady, and which will be overhung by trees of shrubs. Don’t forget to think what the view will be from your favourite armchair, and plant accordingly.
Now back to our ABC’s – or should that be A, B, seeds?! Let’s start with ageratum and alyssum (lots of them), and start to get faster as we come to aster. Ring the Canterbury bells and don’t forget the cleome. Also under ‘C’ we have cornflower and cosmos, for universal appeal. Not a dahlia goes by that we don’t wish for dianthus, and we’re ‘impatiens’ to see more larkspur and lobelia. Marigold never gets old, and as for petunia, salvia and verbena, well, we’ll be seeing ya!
B is for bulbs, and there are plenty to plant when you’re ready. We’ll begin with amaryllis, and then charm you with arum. Begonia to beguile you, and caladium too. Then we’ve gladioli and liatris – now what have we missed? We surely can’t have forgotten to include lilium, and nerine is too lovely not to be seen. The flowering alphabet runs from A right through to Zed, with something for every container and bed. And at the end, who do we find – it’s zephryanthes if you please. If you’ve been singing along with us then you’ll be sowing the seeds of a remarkable spring and summer floral display that will give you and your guests pleasure day after day.