When I got to work early Tuesday morning there were Bees all over the Chives but they were not moving. I was really worried they had been drugged by weedkillers or something else sinister had occurred but as the weather warmed up they started to move and by a couple of hours later they were busy collecting nectar again. Tragadey averted.Phew! I think they had just spent the night on the Chives to be ready first thing.
At the end of last week though, as the rain continued to hammer down outside, I had to admit defeat. I did go on an emergency call out to a climbing rose that had broken its wires due to the weight of it being in full flower and soaking wet. Sadly though all I could do was find a range of garden implements to support it from underneath until it dries out a little as it was too heavy to lift even in stages. At least it is wedged until it and me dry out. All this rain has got me thinking about watering. Especially as it is the time of year friends and neighbours start to come knocking about holiday watering. Having spent more time just recently unwatering than watering maybe a quick look at some common sense rules will help avoid disappointment on your return from you trip to exciting climes.
So, back to basics, If it is raining do not assume everything is getting wet. Particularyly as the summer goes on and the plants in pots and baskets fill out the water tends to run off the foliage on to the floor completley bypassing the pot and compost. So yes even in the rain you will need to check the watering of pots and containers and hanging baskets.
Conversely to this is to check things are actually in need of water. If pots are in a greenhouse and they have been well watered with sufficient reservoirs installed by the owner, generally to make you life easier, and we have a week of cloudy cold weather they may not need any water at all and can sometimes need the reservoirs emptying to protect the plants from dying.So always check the surface of the compost to see how moist it is. and check each pot as every aspect and plant responds differently.
I haven’t got any watering pictures so I thought I would just leave this Astrantia here to look pretty.
With regards to hanging baskets, little and often is the trick. You can’t leave them for a couple of days and think you can just give them a good water. The compost dries out and becomes unreceptive to taking on water. Keeping it moist and watering regularly is a much easier regime. If you are watering for a week or longer, once a week you need to feed the plants too. Just add some potassium rich plant food to the watering can and away you go. Don’t feed dry plants. It does more harm than good or wastes all the food as it runs off the dry compost.
Irrigation systems are not the godsend they may seem. I installed one round our veggie beds and its not stopped raining since!! a steady drip drip system is a good plan if we could guarantee Calafornian weather for the week you are away.
Perennial actions required now, Aquilegia are a popular cottage garden plant but can self seed everywhere to avoid being over run take the seed head off now, Oriental poppies once they have finished just take up an awful lot of room in the border and look untidy. If you chop them back to ground level as soon as possible they produce a lovely mound of well behaved fresh green foliage that is a lovely foil for later flowering plants rather than a sprawling mass. Occasionally if the weather is right they can flower again. Lupins also need some dead heading attention now which will reward you with yet more flowers.
Whilst we are on the subject of perennials, Erysimum, perennial wallflowers, such as ‘Bowles Mauve’ are incredibly popular at the moment, and why not, they are fabulously hard workers with a lovely scent. It can be difficult to know how to deal with them as they never stop flowering, I have had them in flower from March to November before. Around now, even though there are still plenty of flowers on the tips of the stems, I tend to think they are looking scraggy and untidy. If you take all the older flowering stems off down to the first leaves new flowers will soon emerge and the plant looks much tidier. You can take a few stems back down further into the leaves to try and stop the plant looking leggy but this is risky and the whole plant has dies on me in the past even though I only took it down to green soft wood. These days I grow them for a few years and just dead head them and then when they get too tall and leggy I take some cuttings and start again
Cephalaria gigantea is a lovely perennial in bloom at the moment. Of all of the plants I used to grow when I ran my small nursery, more on this one day, there are not many that are not now widely available in garden centres, such as, Verbena bonariensis and Knautia macedonica, but this majestic and yet delicate plant, with its creamy yellow scabious flower heads waving high over the rest of the border has remained aloof.
If you ever come across it and you have some room give it a try. It is happy in full sun or part shade and any type of soil so long as it is free draining. It sadly, does not look good after it has flowered so just chop the flower stems down and wait for next year.
Prune Lilacs and Weigela that have finished flowering so that they have time to add new growth that will flower next year.
JUst time for a quick veg update, and there is mixed success in the vegetable garden as a result of all the inclement weather and cold temperatures. The Greens are doing particularly well and yet the Squash and Sweet corn are looking poorly and are desperate for some warmth and dry weather. My climbing french beans have just started to climb and yet the Borlotti and Runner beans planted at the same time not that far away have reached the top of the wigwam already. On the downside of that garden though the garlic has just about rotted. I have lifted some bulbs which will be useable but they are tiny. The vagaries of gardening are for some reason what keeps us interested!
Anyway, that’s all from me, Keep busy out there and pray for some more seasonable weather. I hope your roses and peonies were not all spolit by the rain. There is always next year! Happy days in the garden x