Was I worried about the ground being too dry and the water butts running low!!! Silly me. I am afraid to say we have even had the heating back on this week. At least there are encouraging signs of the temperatures rising again next week. Despite the cold and the wet making the garden look a little bedraggled even the half hardy Zinnia I had just planted out have started to grow. The garden is definitely thriving and flowers are generally quite resilient to a little rain, however I do usually resort to,
Taking emergency action when lousy weather is forecast. The Rose’s and Peonies that are in full bloom at the moment will not survive the couple of days of rain, so I dive outside and cut them for the house. No point in letting then spoil. I’ve left all the buds for after the rain.
One thing about dull days I find, is that it makes all the green foliage stand out so much more. As you can see with the Rosemary, Sage, Hosta and Rodgersia leaves below.
Leaf Miner on your Chard, Beetroot and Spinach?? It can leave an entire crop of leaves rendered inedible. There is no chemical control and the flies can have 3 life cycles in a summer. Best solutions is to cut off all the leaves to the base of the plant and dispose of in the bin.
Then feed with a nitrogen rich fertiliser like Miracle grow and hope you managed to catch all of the larve before they hatched otherwise the circle starts again on your fresh leaves. You could cover the plants with a mesh, to protect from the adults getting on to the leaves , first attacks usually start in April. If you cover half way through the season and you have missed disposing of some of the larvae you will just entrapp the adults inside the mesh and they will lay eggs on the new leaves anyway. However definitely worth thinking about for next year if you have suffered this time around.
Dead Heading is the other major job this week, roses, geraniums, geums and Iris, anything that has finished flowering chop the flower heads off to encourage more to come. With Geraniums, once they have finished their first flush cut everything down to the ground and you will get another neat mound of fresh green growth. Some varieties even reward you with a second flowering later on. Things that have flowered that self seed readily such as Aquilegia it is also a good plan to get out there and remove the seed heads before they have a chance to take over completely.
It is also time and the perfect weather to take some action on your Iris. Varieties that have a Rhizome that grows on the surface of the soil like the ones in the photo below,
These Iris need to feel the sunshine on the rhizomes in order to produce flowers next year. Over time clumps become very congested and hide much of the rhizome and also get weeds growing in amongst the rhizomes that are impossible to remove without digging up the whole plant.
So, even though it is earlier than the RHS suggest, I tend to do it anytime after flowering when the weather is suitably wet enough for the replace plants to settle back in well with very little detriment to the plant or flowering.
So, Dig up the entire plant, remove any weeds and dig the ground over adding in some compost, growmore or blood, fish and bone. Then with your hands and secatures break up the clumpls to remove and of the old and wrinkly bits of rhizome and split congested bits up to create new plants.
If we do have a summer like last year, they may need a drop of water but most importantly when you replant make sure you leave the rhizome on the surface to get a summer of sunshine.
Tomato blight, is a fungal disease which can decimate tomato crops and for which there is no chemical control for home gardeners. I bring this up this week as leaves retaining water for excessive amounts of time are one of the main aids to the infections starting. So make sure you are removing Side shoots, removing the lower leaves and that there is good air flow around your tomato plants to ensure the speediest removal of water from the leaves. Prevention is your only option.
One last thing to check is that you have pruned you Clematis Montana,Chirrosa, Alpina and armandii. If they should require it these clematis need pruning after the flowers have finished. Be aware though, Alpina is often grown also for its wonderful seed heads so only prune if necessary. You can hard prune back to the base every few years or so but if it just requires a bit of tidying don’t be afraid to hack them back they are vigorous growers and will recover.
Well, hopefully we will get some weather to get back outside and enjoy the garden. If the roses have survived the rain they will be magnificent next week. Happy Days surveying the damage and dodging the showers in the Garden x