Gardening advice - keep up with summer watering and deadheading to ensure a long flowering season
PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 June 2013
SHAUN FLANNERY 01302-570814/07778-315553
Keep up with summer watering and deadheading to ensure a long flowering season, says Dan Booth head gardener at Brodsworth Hall
With luck, July will be one of the hottest months of the year. While you’re stretched out on the sun lounger topping up your tan don’t forget about the garden. Long, hot days mean lots of activity especially where flowering plants are concerned. Repeat flowering plants of all varieties use up masses of energy and water putting on a show for you and you can help extend their season by being vigilant with the watering can and frequent flower snips.
Dead heading is a very important task and if you have lots of plants that require it, it may be worth investing in a good pair of snips. A sharp pair of scissors will usually suffice though and for some plants, such as Pelargoniums, your thumb nail is often the best tool for the job. Here at Brodsworth, with over 12,000 bedding plants, 200 roses and 1,000 plus perennials to consider, we use a variety of methods.
Dead heading helps prevent a plant from wasting energy trying to keep alive a flower that is past its best aesthetically and encourages it to put it to better use producing new blooms elsewhere on the plant. You can keep on top of dead heading easily just by doing five or 10 minutes each evening rather than letting it build up to a massive task. Look out for bees though; one could easily be working away inside a flower.
The flowers of some plants such as roses and petunias are very easily damaged by water so large amounts of dead heading can be created in one fell swoop by a passing thunder storm or an errant hosepipe in the wrong hands. In the case of roses (especially old varieties), many buds will not open if the outer petals get too wet and you may find yourself with the heartbreaking task of cutting off hundreds of flowers that never saw the light of day.
Watering is another key activity for July. While a hosepipe or sprinkler may be quicker the watering can is a more efficient use of water. If you can, try and stick with the watering can and help conserve our most precious commodity. As a general rule, it’s best to not get water on foliage as it can lead to scorching or encourage water-born diseases. You should try and water the soil (or compost for potted plants) around the plant over quite a broad area rather than only at the base of the plant. This helps encourage root growth as the plant goes looking for water farther afield. Don’t forget that in really dry spells plants and trees planted in the previous year and even the year before will require some water.
Another place in the garden that may need extra water is the pond. Keep your eye on the level and top up when required. Also in the pond it is likely that algae and various pondweeds will be multiplying rapidly in the warmer water so keep a check on this too and act accordingly. Various treatments are available from chemicals (that won’t harm your fish) to ultra violet filters.
Your lawn may also need some water this month and you can also apply a fast acting summer fertiliser as required, though it is best not to do so during hot and spells. Only feed your lawn in the summer if you didn’t do so in the spring, do both and you’ll be cutting it twice a day!
Here at Brodsworth the limestone lawns in the formal garden are incredibly species rich and a large area is kept long for the cultivation of wild flowers. This diversity has arisen due to a combination of the fact that no chemical treatments have ever been applied to these areas and the many years without grass cutting before English Heritage took over in 1990. In recent years the appearance of a green winged orchid on the west terrace (normally cut short) has been a highlight.