Seed Heads, Produce and the Hampton Hack

To start on a negative note this week, one of the jobs I loathe is dead heading sticky seed pods off plants such as Campanula, Petunia and Antirrhinum to name a few. Pinching the side shoots out of tomatoes also has a similarly uncomfortable feeling on my hands and yet these are just jobs you cannot accomplish wearing gloves.

I get in to trouble a lot in the summer for never wearing gloves. they are far to hot so I spend my evenings either trying to hide my dreadful looking work hands or frantically trying to remove all the thorns and prickles I managed to come across unsuspectingly. Ah well, I could be stuck in a sweltering office is what I try and remind myself.

So July already, the garden switches into actual summer mode, fruit is ripening, like these lushous looking red cuurants,

There is plenty of bounty to collect from Tomatoes, Peas, Rashishes and Leaves. The beans are making it to the top of the wigwams, with the canes soon to disappear once you have pinched the tops out.

This blistering or puckering found on all currants around this time is caused by Currant Blister Aphid. Pale yellow aphids can usually be found on the underneath of the leaves. Small attacks may look unsightly but rarely damage either the vigor or the fruiting of the plant itself. remover fallen leaves to try and prevent pests over wintering and remove badly infected leaves but spraying should not be necessary. When pruning next time try to create more airflow through the plant and it should help reduce the risk next year.

Tomato experiment update , The Peat Free Tomatoes do have flower trusses on them, but the plants look half the size still, leafyness wise, than those grown in multi purpose compost. They have all be fed the same dose of tomorite, once a week, yet clearly to grow in peat free compost a different feeding regime is needed to give plants an extra boost. I shall have to experiment with that for the rest of the summer and see if I can bring them on better.

There was an Interesting article in the guardian on Monday about hayfever and it being higher in some cities,due to a tendency to plant Male only trees as street trees. These have the advantage of less mess to clean up, as they do not bear fruit and ornate flowers all of which eventually drop to the street. However what they do produce is masses of pollen. Whilst suffering from hayfever is a horrid affliction  and knowing that you cannot stop pollen wafting into your garden from the surrounding air. What you can do, however, is to make sure you fill your garden full of plants that are insect pollinated and thus reduce a little of your suffering. Or at least not knowingly add to it.

Seed heads. To cut or not to cut off. Ok confession time, I am addicted to seed heads. All shapes and sizes languish somewhere in spare corners of the house waiting for the time to be sprayed and used for decoration. I also leave some to look forlorn and yet beautiful, a remembrance of summers gone through the winter to come. There is plenty of time for later seedeads to be left but I always leave the alliums, annual poppies and some honesty to grace the winter garden. Choosing which to leave and when is tricky. All the Aquilegia and Geramium have gone from the garden. The aquilegia won’t come back this year but the geraniums might. Sometimes I leave an odd Peony seed head as they are fascinatingly alien looking but Lupins and Delphiniums I treat like geraniums in what some people term the ‘Hampton Hack’ showing allegiance to the ‘Chelsea Chop’ we covered a few weeks ago. Cut them down to the ground. Give them a feed and some water and you will be rewarded with more flowers. Simply cut off the flowering spikes back to the leaves and the plant will just sit there and produce only the odd mediocre flower. Fortune and flowers favour the brave.

Spirea that have finished flowering can also be hacked back now to reward you with a second flush of colourful new growth. Chives are also looking pretty sorry for themselves at this point and could do with cutting back to ground level to reshoot and flower again. Any thyme that has finished flowering to is ready for a hair cut with the shears to stop it going leggy. Lavender though is in full flourish and should just be left and enjoyed by both us and the wildlife.

Not sure there is much time to cover anything else today. Enjoy watching the Hampton Court and the Beth Chatto coverage and we will catch up again next week.Don’t forget to water, deadhead and feed. Happy Days in the Garden x

This pot full of Sempervirens made me chuckle this week as the flower spikes look like an alien peeking out !