Top tips for summer gardening from places in Kent and East Sussex

The White Garden in summer at Sissinghurst Castle

Gardeners and rangers have been as busy as ever caring for gardens across Kent and East Sussex. Now, the rewards are coming into full bloom with new planting and trails to explore. Here are their tops tips for summer gardening at home.

  • Saffron Prentis, gardener at Sissinghurst Castle Garden near Cranbrook, says, “Encourage more flowers to grow on your roses by ‘pegging’ them down. This arches the stem, and buds with short-flowering spurs are encouraged along the length of the stem.”
  • Gardener Emily from Chartwell, near Westerham, says “The fruit and vegetable beds within the Walled Garden at Chartwell are a constant hive of activity. In summer, the most important thing is to keep your crop hydrated. Take time to deadhead and harvest as you go, to help produce continue to flower and set fruit.”
  • Alan from Emmetts Garden near Sevenoaks says "There’s always debate on whether or not to weed in summer. However, if you mulch with garden compost in autumn or early spring, and plant densely where appropriate, this can help suppress weed growth."
  • Gardener Pippa Coulthard, from Ightham Mote near Sevenoaks, says “Ensure you cut and enjoy the sweet pea flowers. Otherwise, the plant focuses on making seed resulting in fewer, smaller flowers. When the seed matures on the plant, the plant dies, as it’s done its job and propagated itself.”
  • “The key to growing rhododendrons successfully is to give them plenty of light and keep them pruned” advises Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Head Gardener Natan Cointet. “This reduces the chance of pests attacking the plants and ensures they’re healthy enough to fight disease.”
  • Gardener Hannah from Bateman’s, Burwash says, "Removing dead flower heads is not only done for aesthetic reasons, but also supports the formation of new flowering shoots. If dead flowers are left, they can become a breeding ground for pests or fungi. You will find that most roses bloom for a second time, when they are cut back after the main flowering.”
  • Hannah from Bateman’s continues, “Watering is essential as the weather warms up. Give your garden a water once or twice a week to draw plant roots deeper into the nutritious soil. Don't forget your containers too."
  • And finally she adds, "On the vegetable plot, don't forget to make your late sowings - for example radishes, lettuce, rocket, winter onions and spinach - in spare patches once you've harvested your earlier crop. Though if you find you've grown too many vegetables that you just cannot eat, leave them in the ground so they can flower for food for the insects."
  • “Take small steps to encourage wildlife into your garden. Simple features such as log piles and small rockeries create different habitats that encourage diversity, which is good for plants and fauna” says Smallhythe Place, Tenderten gardener Matthew Mordaunt