It’s roses, roses all the way, now that June is here! You can stay in the garden till late on warm evenings, admiring your efforts with a pleasant glass of something. But do not think your work is done, Dear Reader, oh dear me, no. There are all sorts of tasks you could be getting on with, between your little sit-downs. Here are a few:
(I said ‘Chelsea chopping’, Caroline, not ‘Chelsea shopping’…..) This is the name given to a sort of pruning of herbaceous perennials at about the time of the Chelsea Flower Show, and the aim of it is to make the plants flower later, bushier, and a bit lower, lessening the need for staking.
There is a long list of pretty herbaceous perennials which respond incredibly well to this treatment including Anthemis varieties (chamomile), Nepeta (catmint), Coreopsis (tickseed), Rudbeckia (coneflower), Sedum (ice plant), Helenium (sneezeweed), Argyranthemum (marguerite), Solidago (goldenrod), Campanula (bellflower), Eupatorium (Joe Pye weed), etc – all ideal. Grab the stems with one hand and chop them off with secateurs with the other, down to about half their height. Wallop! The prunings can go on the compost heap, or you can even use the tops of things like sedums as softwood cuttings (see my last Grow-How column on our blog site !) You can also just cut back a few of the stems, at the front of the plant or selectively all over, which would give you flowers over a really long period.
It all seems rather brutal, but I assure you I’ve done it for years and it has always worked really well.
PLANTING OUT THE TOMS
Surely to goodness, we won’t get any more frosts now, and can safely plant out the tomato plants we grew from seed (maybe they need to stay under glass in Scotland!). Let’s hope for a blight-free year – I asked James Wong on Gardeners’ Question Time for a good blight-resistant variety, and he suggested ‘Crimson Crush’, but another tomato-growing friend of mine has given them the thumbs-down because of poor growth, so who knows? I tend always to go back to ‘Gardener’s Delight’, which we love to eat, and seem as reliable as any.
When you put them in, plant them deeply, right up to the bottom leaves – the stem will develop more roots and give you a stronger, healthier plant.
Most of the spring-flowering shrubs have finished, and you should now cut right out those stems that flowered, from plants like Philadelphus (mock orange) , Weigela and Rubus (ornamental bramble) which will replace them with strong new shoots to grow over the rest of the summer, and flower next year. Cutting out the flowered shoots of Choisya (Mexican orange) may well persuade it to put on a welcome second smaller flush of blossom in September, which a very nice bonus for your industry!
* If you’ve got fruit coming on a vine, pinch out the growing tip of the shoot two leaves after the fruit-truss, so the plant puts its energy into the berries, not the leaves.
* Duckweed can multiply horribly quickly in a pond. Scoop it out, and let it lie on the side of the pond for a day or so, to let the water wildlife creep back into the pond again.
* Once broad bean plants have started forming beans at the bottom, you can pinch out the tops of the plants, which should prevent any problems with blackfly.