The warmth of the Summer sunshine makes it the ideal time to enjoy your garden. Officially starting on Monday 21 June, the long-awaited season of longer lighter days is when many gardens look their best, filled with colour and fragrance.
Whether you planted young seedlings in Spring and can now enjoy seeing your efforts burst into bloom, or you’re looking for fast floral additions, the experts at Dobbies have shared their top tips to get gardens looking their best.
Dobbies Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles, said: “Summer is a busy time in the garden, with plenty to do but equally lots to enjoy as nature puts on its best sensory display of the year. As temperatures rise, it’s a time of exuberant growth, with potential dry spells meaning a little extra TLC needed to give your garden a healthy boost.
“Just as plants and lawns need some protection from the sunshine, don’t forget to regularly top up the sunscreen when working outside, stay hydrated and avoid spending too much time gardening when the sun is at its strongest. I tend to do watering, pruning, mowing and any extra planting first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon to early evening – the same applies if you’re working in the greenhouse. I find the cooler temperatures make it a much more enjoyable time of day to be pottering outside!”
Early summer gardening action plan
Once bedding plants raised from seed or young plants have been hardened off in a cold frame over a period of 7 to 10 days, they can now be planted out. More tropical feature plants such as Canna and ornamental bananas can also be planted.
You should remain vigilant of any late frosts or cold snaps and protect plants accordingly. In colder areas of the country, it may be wise to wait until early to mid-June.
Watering is key during peak summer months when your garden is less likely to get what it needs naturally from rainwater. Early morning is the optimal time to water plants, avoiding the hottest part of the day when this will quickly evaporate and allowing a chance for plant roots to take in what they need.
Late afternoon or early evening is ok for watering, so that the plants have time to drink up the water before the heat of the following day but avoid watering too late at night as this can lead to fungus growth.
Make sure water is directed at the base of plants, rather than over the top, to ensure the water gets to where it is needed.
Water newly planted shrubs and perennials in dry periods, mulching well to help retain moisture. Adding liquid fertiliser, as per the manufacturer’s instructions, every fortnight to feed plants grown in containers and hanging baskets will help for healthy growth.
Light work of weeding
Warmer temperatures will herald the appearance of weeds in flower beds and borders. The quickest and easiest way to control them is to hoe them off before they get chance to get established, applying a thick layer of mulch over the soil surface to help keep any further weeds at bay. Mulching with organic matter, such as garden compost, also locks in moisture and, over time, helps to improve your soil, whilst giving plants a well-needed boost.
Regularly dead-heading flower borders will extend the flowering season well into autumn, particularly for Dahlias, Roses and cottage garden Perennials.
Any early flowering herbaceous plants that have already died back can be cut back and tidied, whilst some will grow back with a second flush of foliage and flower for a late season display, such as Geraniums and Delphiniums. Spring flowering annuals, such as Forget-me-nots, will have faded now and should be lifted to make way for later summer plantings. Fill gaps with fast growing high summer bedding plants such as Dahlia, Cosmos and Nicotiana.
Prune Wisteria cutting whippy side shoots back to around five leaves to 20cm in length. Prune spring flowering shrubs, such as Deutzia and Weigela soon after flowering has faded to prevent them becoming overgrown. Remove spent branches with secateurs or loppers to allow new growth to develop as this will carry next Spring’s display.
Cottage garden plant support
In cottage gardens, make sure plant supports are in place and they’ll soon be disguised by fresh new growth. Sweet Peas should be growing strongly now. Use garden twine to tie-in growths to their supports. Once established, they will climb happily by themselves.
Take action to protect susceptible lush foliage of prized herbaceous plants, such as Delphinium and Hosta, from slug damage.
Early season herbaceous plants, such as Hardy Geranium and Oriental Poppies can be cut back after flowering to encourage re-growth of tidy, fresh new foliage. Geraniums will often put on a second, late season flower display. Mulch and feed for an extra boost. Clematis montana can be cut back after flowering to control growth if required. Also, tie in new growth on summer flowering Clematis and Honeysuckle.
Dead-head Roses to encourage repeat flowering. Feed them with Rose fertiliser and add a layer of mulch for an extra boost to support strong growth and a floriferous display. Roses are at their peak in June, making it the perfect time to choose new varieties to add to your summer display. We have a vast range of our new own brand roses now in store.
Show lawns some love
Lawns are put under extra pressure during high summer months, but established lawns that dry out and have brown patches will recover with some TLC and when rain returns – so don’t panic if they do.
Regular mowing is best for a healthy lawn, reducing the cutting height to help prevent drying out and when the grass is growing more strongly. Keeping the blades slightly higher will also help the grass resist the extra summer wear from garden games and stay at home picnics. For a lovely, lush green lawn, apply a high nitrogen summer feed.
Why not leave some areas of grass to grow to allow wildflowers to flourish, supporting wildlife and pollinating insects.
According to a recent survey by UK charity RSPB, more than half of Brits said that spending more time at home over the last year has made them more aware of nature around them. The warmer months are a brilliant time for some garden wildlife spotting and to do your bit to protect the nature that lives on your doorstep.
Provide a wildlife haven with the addition of bird feeders, bird baths topped up regularly with fresh clean water and shady shelter. Encourage bees and butterflies with plenty of plants that will attract pollinators, such as Aster, Cosmos, Verbena and herbs like Sage, Mint, Rosemary and Thyme will also attract Bees. There are top tips with on the Dobbies Gardening Podcast: https://www.dobbies.com/podcasts?ecbr=1
Quick fix colour – Summer bedding plants
You can’t beat summer bedding plants for a colour burst and fast results. There are so many varieties to choose from, you can have beautiful flowers from late spring through till autumn. Whether you’ve got a large garden to co-ordinate, or just need a few pots to add colour to your balcony or windowsill, there are endless ways to use bedding plants, making them one of the most popular additions to any summer garden.
- Plant up some pots: Spruce up your patio or balcony with a few planted containers. Choose your plants and pots at the same time for a coordinated feel. Create a statement with several identical pots. Or go for an eclectic mix showcasing different varieties and colours. Terracotta pots or wooden containers will give you a traditional look, while eco-friendly plastics and bright colours will bring a contemporary feel.
- Try a hanging basket: Mix and match bedding plants in a hanging basket to create a high impact feature to liven up a doorway, wall or fence. For best results, pack in as many bedding plants as you can. Position upright varieties like petunias or begonias in the centre, with trailing plants like lobelia or bacopa around the edges to create fullness and a waterfall effect. Remember to water the basket every day and you’ll get months of lovely flowers.
- Brighten a windowsill: No garden? No problem. Bedding plants can help you make the most of whatever outdoor space you have. Choose a size and shape of container to suit and you can transform your windowsill or doorstep with beautiful blooms. Geraniums are always a good choice if your windowsills are exposed.
Know Your Bedding Plants
Impatiens: Busy Lizzies thrive in shade, so they’re a top choice if you want to brighten a shady spot. In pretty shades of pinks, reds, oranges, purples and white, this variety is ideal for bringing together lots of different colour schemes.
Begonias: Begonias are happy to grow in most conditions, making them perfect for all kinds of spaces. This pretty variety has small red, pink, and white flowers, contrasting with shiny, rounded, succulent leaves in bronze or green.
Trailing Petunia: You can’t beat Trailing Petunias for a spectacular hanging basket. Just a few plants create an enormous display, making them real value for money. This striking variety has blooms in vivid shades of pink, purple, blue, white and red.