Summer gardening tips: from our garden to yours

Croome wisteria in the walled gardens

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. 

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.  

The National Trust School of Gardening 

The National Trust School of Gardening is a book packed full of tips, ideas, guides and illustrations inspired by the places we care for. It has all the information you need to transform your own garden or growing space and is suitable for both new and experienced gardeners. To celebrate the launch of the book, we're sharing a video featuring the author Rebecca Bevan on a visit to Fenton House in London.

Video

Pruning wisteria


In our latest gardening video, Rebecca Bevan, the author of The National Trust School of Gardening, visits Fenton House in London to find out about pruning wisteria. She asks Head Gardener, Andy Darragh, how he keeps this vibrant climber looking its best during the summer months.

School of Gardening

The National Trust School of Gardening  

From herbaceous borders to sustainable gardening, The National Trust School of Gardening by Rebecca Bevan is inspired by 300 years of horticultural history and top tips from our gardeners. With clear and practical advice for garden development and beautiful pictures, this guide is suitable for all experience levels. Buy a copy from our online shop.

Roses

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. 

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 offSome 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.

 

What's in season
Harvesting potatoes in the Kitchen Garden at Ham House, London

Get a taste of what's in season for August 

August is an abundant month for so many different fruits and vegetables, including cucumbers, one of the UK's favourites. Find out from our gardening experts which fruits and vegetables are best to harvest or buy this month and serve up a storm at home.

Growing wild flowers

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. 

Honey bee feeding on a dahlia flower

Help protect pollinators 

Bees play a vital role in the natural world around us but they're under threat. By donating to support nature and wildlife at the places in our care, you'll be helping to protect these pollinators and the green spaces they call home. Now more than ever, we need your help to look after the nature and wildlife we all find comfort in.

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.
 

Meet the experts
Rebecca Bevan

Rebecca Bevan

Rebecca Bevan has been a Royal Horticultural Society advisor and has written for The Garden Magazine and the Telegraph. She has been a contributor on BBC Gardeners’ World and Gardeners’ Question Time. She also worked as a Gardens Researcher for the National Trust and is currently an independent consultant.

Pam Smith, Senior National Consultant for Gardens and Parklands

Pam Smith

As our Senior National Consultant for Gardens and Parklands, Pam Smith advises on horticulture and garden and landscape history. She first joined the National Trust as Regional Gardens Adviser for Wales and Midlands after working in public parks and botanic gardens, including the University of Birmingham's botanic garden, where she was Director.