Ickworth's gardening tips for the summer
During the height of summer, herbaceous borders are bursting with colour and we’re finally in full swing with harvesting our veggies. But how do you keep your garden looking its best during this season, especially when it's hot? We asked Ickworth's Assistant Head Gardener, Jack Lindfield, for his top tips.
From mowing the lawn to tackling weeds...
A garden such as Ickworth in Suffolk has extensive areas of formal lawns, herbaceous borders and not to mention over five acres of walled garden. But the same rules apply in any garden through the summer months, so if you’ve already got your list of garden tasks this summer, here are seven more to add to it.
- Hoe Hoe Hoe – No, we're not talking about Christmas just yet! It's time to get on top of your borders and get ahead with hoeing off young weed seedlings. Choose a nice dry day, so that any weeds that are missed from collecting them wither away in the baking heat from the sun. It’s worth taking a hoe out with you every time you get in the garden, so no weeds stand a chance of bullying out your annuals and perennials. It's worth noting, in hot weather try limiting the amount you dig, to minimise the loss of moisture in the soil.
- Water your plants in the morning or evening - did you know it's best to water your pots and herbaceous beds in the morning or last thing at night?
- Don't get too hot out there - as well as remembering to top up on the sun cream if you're planning on doing some gardening. Spare a thought for your plants in the hot weather and remember to open up those doors and vents if you have a greenhouse or polytunnel.
- Be a supporting friend – Look out for any tall, leggy plants within your borders that could topple over or snap from high winds. These can be supported individually or as a group with canes and twine, better yet find a local steel stock holder and get yourself some 6mm steel rods and make your own. They will last for years, save you money in the long run and they look the part.
- Secateurs at the ready – Early summer is the time to prune many of the spring flowering shrubs such as Philadelphus, Weigela and Ribes (Flowering Currant). Prune off growth that has just finished flowering down to an outward facing bud, along with any damaged or crossing branches within the shrub, which should be removed either to suitable growth or completely.
- Too much to harvest – If you started the growing season with too much enthusiasm for your own good and now have gluts of veg left, right and centre, there’s no need to panic. The best thing to do if you can’t eat enough of what you’re harvesting is to freeze it. Simply clean off all the dirt, blanch in boiling water for about 3 minutes, drop into some ice cold water for a minute or so, thoroughly dry them off, seal in a freeze bag and chuck them in the freezer. This way none of that hard work goes to waste and you’ve got the most out of your harvest.
- Raise the deck – I see so many lawns looking browner than they do green during the summer. This is mainly due to setting the cutting height too low on the mower. Doing this creates shallow rooting, making the lawn more susceptible to drought and building up of moss. From the first cut of the year, start high and gradually work down to your desired height (ideally around 1 inch cutting height) and work back up to the highest as we move into early autumn. If your grass does turn brown from the heat, don't be tempted to water it, it's good at dealing with a lack of water and will bounce back.