Until the middle of May the weather continued its record-breaking behaviour. After the wettest, coldest April we have ever experienced we had the hottest and driest May Bank Holiday. I was lucky and went on holiday in the Canary Islands for the second half of April so I escaped the worst period of cold and rain. When you get back from a holiday, the first thing to do is a tour of the garden and a look in the greenhouse to see how things have grown. This year they hadn’t; hardly anything had changed except the three varieties of beans sown in the greenhouse had germinated well …
None of my outdoor vegetable sowing had come through and the worrying thing is that, in the middle of May, it still isn’t showing. Have the seeds rotted or will something happen sometime ? Apart from that, the Bank Holiday heatwave has made the world a lot greener.
Things being green, brings me on to lawn care. At last the grass is growing and will need cutting at least once a week. There is always a temptation to cut lawns too low. Unless you want a cricket pitch, lawns will look much greener if they are cut relatively high. I keep my mower on three settings above the lowest. Using a professional lawn care service costs money but it does repay you with a lovely green lawn; especially at this time of year before dry weather gives you the dilemma of whether or not to water the grass. Don’t forget to keep the edges cut frequently with sharp long-handled shears and an occasional trim from a moon-shaped edging tool.
Weeding needs to be a constant occupation from now on and it is another task that really does make a huge difference to the look of a garden. As I often say, a little and often is always the best way. In the flower garden one way is to cram in so many plants that there is no room for weeds but that doesn’t suit all flowers and bare patches of clean and freshly turned over soil can add much to the appearance of a border. Shrub roses in particular need that sort of treatment. Once you have cleared away any noticeable weeds it is easy to keep bare earth looking good with frequent hoeing, which takes very little time. Weeding in the vegetable garden is necessary for optimum growth and also for appearance. A neatly set out vegetable garden is very attractive. Fruit areas also need weeding although mulching bushes and canes is good for the plants and can reduce weeding. If you grow raspberries, be careful with a hoe near the canes because it is easy to cut down the freshly emerging shoots at the base of the canes which will make next year’s canes.
Another W is watering. Even though we have had so much rain this year it doesn’t hang around long in the upper levels of garden soil where roots grow. Test moisture content a couple of inches below soil level and be ready to get the hose out (or splash out on an irrigation system and start using it). Better still, use a watering can with rain water from your many water butts. Plants in containers will need daily watering and newly planted trees and shrubs need less frequent watering but done generously. It’s good to keep roses and dahlias watered on a weekly basis in this way. Container plants benefit greatly from frequent applications of liquid fertiliser. Before you plant anything in a tub or basket, mix water-retaining granules into the compost, which helps to make the most of your water. Remember that acid loving plants grow best with rain water rather than tap water. Water butts are necessary but the amount of water one but holds doesn’t go far so I try to ensure that I give priority of rain water use to acid loving plants.
June is a great month for enjoying flower colour and you can increase your enjoyment with regular dead-heading, especially for roses and annual bedding and container plants. This makes flowering more prolific and keeps it going longer.
I look forward to meeting many of you in our Open Garden on 10th June