Friend of AllClear, Diana Morgan is a blog-post writer, social media marketer, and eco-retailer. In this guest post, she shares her top 7 tips to help your garden blossom this summer!
After a dull, wet and cold early spring, we are finally seeing some good weather!
The rain followed by sunshine gives our gardens a huge boost, but also sometimes the feeling that there’s so much more to be done.
Especially if you’re going to be away on holiday this summer!
So, here’s my 7 tips to keep your garden blossoming all year round…
Tidying up spring bulbs
- Nip off the heads of daffodils and leave the stalk to die down along with the leaves, enabling the plants to build up strength for next year. Don’t tie a knot in the foliage, that’s obsolete advice. Bulbs will benefit from a watering with liquid tomato feed after flowering. More bulbs can be planted in autumn, but snowdrops should be planted “in the green”, in late winter – I learnt this to my cost a few years ago!
When should you do it?
- It is safe in most areas to plant out bedding plants now or by the end of May. The garden centres make a lot of money by selling plants early in the season, taking advantage of our eagerness to get started
What kind of container?
- For bedding plants in hanging baskets and pots, try to use a larger container where possible. The bigger volume of potting compost helps prevent the flowers from drying out too quickly. Consider carefully where you place these, especially if you go away a lot – as it can make a difference in keeping the plants moist. Your choice of plants helps here too: for instance busy lizzies are far more thirsty than petunias. Again, tomato feed is fine for flowers (I’m not in the pay of the tomato feed manufacturers, I’m just saying that you don’t need a different feed for each type of plant!)
- A huge array of vegetables can be sown or planted out now. I particularly love growing tomatoes (favourite variety: Sungold) and courgettes, and have discovered that I do like runner beans after all, now that we grow our own, pick them young, and don’t cook them for too long. This is my second year of having a greenhouse and I hope to be growing loads of tomatoes, aubergines, and red peppers in it. These three will benefit from a regular watering with (you’ve guessed it) liquid tomato feed once the fruits start to form
Planting shrubs or trees
- Think about planting shrubs and trees for a succession of flowering over the year, for instance, in approximate order: forsythia, plum trees, camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, ceanothus (a favourite of mine), apple trees, and lilac. My abelia in the front garden produces small pink flowers on slim arching branches from about mid-summer into early winter – such good value!
Clearing out the composit
- Now’s a good time to give the compost bin or heap a good sort out, removing any rotted material to use on flower and vegetable beds (preferably after a good rain soaking to help retain moisture) and mix up the rest to start it hotting up again. When adding to the heap remember to keep a good mixture of nitrogen (kitchen peelings and green waste) and carbon (woody prunings, cardboard, and newspaper – the latter two are especially used when the compost seems rather soggy). If you are new to composting your local council may well be able to sell you a compost bin very cheaply
Enjoying your summer
Above all, get out and enjoy it!
Remember to sit in your garden and just observe the scents, the new flowers, and the bird life – it’s so easy to get so involved in the work and not spend time just being there.
Get new ideas and inspiration from garden visits – the National Garden Scheme has a huge variety of private gardens open to the public for just a few days in the year (look out for the famous Yellow Book, or the yellow county pamphlets), and of course the National Trust and Royal Horticultural Society gardens are lovely to look at.
There are some lovely gardens overseas to enjoy and get ideas from, such as, in France, the Château de Villandry in the Loire Valley, with its amazing ornamental gardens planted with striking vegetables such as cavalo nero and chard in a formal geometric arrangement (even better seen from the upper outdoor terrace in the chateau!). Monet’s garden with its waterlilies and exuberant planting, in Normandy, is also very well worth a visit.
So these are just a few ideas to get you started. Happy gardening!