Summer gardening tips: from our garden to yours
With colourful blooms to enjoy, fruit to pick, wildlife to watch, seeds to sow and veg to harvest, the summer months are rewarding for many gardeners and growers.
To help you make the most of the season we've asked our gardeners to share their tips on a variety of topics, including roses, pruning, lawn care, and much more.
At this time of year, it's a good idea to trim your perennials so that they flower for longer and keep their strength and vigour. It's also important to deadhead flowering plants to keep them healthy and blooming for as long as possible.
Many gardeners like to do the ‘Hampton Court’ hack in July. This method involves taking the shoot of a plant in your flower border and cutting back by roughly a third.
You may not need to water as much as you think, especially if the soil is healthy and the ground is covered by plants or mulches. Give your plants a drink if they are starting to wilt but don't just water the surface of the soil as this will cause shallow rooting. It's best to water your garden first thing in the morning or in the evening.
Our gardeners warn against a lot of digging in dry weather as it damages the soil structure, increases moisture loss and disturbs plant roots.
Late summer is a good time to plant autumn bulbs, including cyclamens, colchicums and dahlias. You can also take and raise cuttings from your favourite flowering plants, so you have a plentiful supply for next year.
Roses are a firm favourite with many gardeners. Not only do roses look and smell amazing they are also incredibly versatile and can be grown over fences, walls, arches and even in pots. The roses at the gardens in our care are starting to bloom and we want you to experience the beauty of these flowers at home too. From choosing sweet-smelling or thornless varieties to dealing with flowers affected by black spot, we're sharing our top tips so you can get the most out of your roses this year.
Roses with a strong fragrance
Old damask and bourbon roses are some of the most deeply scented, used to create perfumes and flavourings. Try ‘Louise Odier’ or ‘Madame Isaac Péreire’, or newer varieties like ‘Constance Spry’ and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’.
Roses for garden fences
Get small climbers for garden fences, such as golden yellow ‘Teasing Georgia’ or pink ‘Blush Noisette’. Or, fan out the branches of a shrub rose so it is flat against the fence. Train the branches horizontally to get more flowers.
Roses for pots
Patio roses such as ‘Queen Mother’ grow well in containers. Choose a pot that’s at least 40cm deep and fill it with loam-based compost or a mix of peat-free compost and garden soil. Feed and water throughout the growing season.
Keeping roses healthy
Plant roses in a fertile, moisture-retentive soil and mulch with compost or well-rotted manure. Prune each winter to stop branches becoming over-crowded. When buying new roses, look for disease-resistant varieties.
Less thorny varieties
Some roses have fewer thorns than others. To keep scratch-free, try the scented, deep pink shrub rose ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’, English rose ‘Kew Gardens’ with its clusters of small white flowers, or purple rambler ‘Veilchenblau’.
Once-flowering ramblers and old roses don’t need to be deadheaded and will form attractive hips. For repeat-flowering roses such as climbers, regular deadheading encourages more flowers.
How do I tackle black spot?
Black spot is a very common fungal disease that causes dark spots to develop on leaves, which then fall off. Some roses are more prone to it than others, but almost all will succumb if they are stressed from drought, poor soil, congestion or all three.
If your rose has a small amount of black spot, you can pick off the affected leaves to help slow the spread. Watering and liquid feeding the plant – and even spraying the foliage with a foliar feed, rose tonic or plant invigorator – may also help boost its health. If the plant is badly affected, you may wish to try a fungicide – look for products that don’t also contain an insecticide, which can harm pollinating insects.
The most important treatment will be in winter when you should clear up all the fallen leaves, pick off any still hanging on the plant, prune out any damaged stems and put a thick mulch of garden compost or well-rotted manure around the base of the rose. This way there will be far fewer fungal spores to re-infect the plant in spring.
If your rose succumbs to the disease every year, no matter what you do, it might be time to dig it out and try a more disease-resistant variety in a new position. Rugosa roses (pictured) are very tough and almost never affected by black spot.
Gardeners and growers don't need much space to plant wild flowers, which will attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. You can either plant seeds or wild flower plugs in areas of lawn or spaces in flower borders. Some plants will thrive better in different soil conditions, so it's best to check before you buy.
How do I get a good mix of wild flowers?
To improve the diversity of wild flower species in your lawn you should always remove the cuttings after mowing and avoid using fertilisers.
How can I grow wild flowers in my garden?
The best thing you can do to encourage wild flowers is to leave lawns (or parts of them) uncut from mid-spring to summer.
What's the best way to sow wild flower seeds?
To introduce new flowers into the lawn it’s best to create open areas of soil through raking (and ideally turf removal) before sowing wild flower seeds.
Which wild flowers should I grow?
The choice of flower seed mix is very important. Stick to locally growing native species suitable for your soil conditions.
What is a meadow?
We use a wide range of vocabulary to describe open spaces. A field is an enclosed area of land used for growing crops or grazing animals, whereas a pasture is grassland used only for grazing animals.
Meadows, however, are distinctive in two important respects. Firstly, meadows are permanent and are never ploughed or re-sown with new grasses, which allows for the gradual development of a rich diversity of naturally occurring plants and insects. Secondly, meadows are cut annually for hay. The grass is left to grow and mature before being harvested, meaning the flowers can complete their cycle of seed production and distribution.
Measures to prevent nutrient enrichment are vital to creating a flower-rich meadow. Vigorous grasses thrive on rich fertile soils and are the enemies of diversity. When artificial fertilisers are added to a pasture or meadow wild flowers can’t compete with fast-growing plants and grasses. Removing the hay crop every year also helps to keep nutrient levels low and plant diversity high.