A tremendous amount of time has been taken up with watering recently. I store more than 800 gallons of rain water in huge butts connected by hose pipe so that the one nearest the pathway can be used for dipping in the cans.
As the water level goes down, the dipping bin fills up again. The water was very low but the recent rain saved the day.
The lawns in the back garden are never watered but brilliantly green because the lawn consists of 60 per cent white clover and 40 per cent grass.
This is all due to Mother Nature but very few people notice the clover as the lawn is cut regularly before the clover flowers are visible.
Plants in the herbaceous border are looking really good now with c osmos and dahlias filling any gaps.
The dead flowers should have been taken off and the brown leaves have been removed from the hostas and the foliage on both plants looks really attractive even without the flowers.
This transformed the area at the centre of my garden where the now dried up stream runs.
The phlox are beautiful this year and they are to be sprayed with Fungus Fighter to prevent the leaves turning white due to the powdery mildew which attacks them at this time of year – so be aware.
Lots of herbaceous plants will come into flower again this year if the dead flowers are removed; this is particularly true when looking at Gaillardia, Penstemon, Delphinium, Erigeron and, very importantly, the dahlias.
Is there a space at the back of your flower border?
It’s not too late to sow a wigwam of runner beans; they grow very quickly and look so beautiful.
As the children are on holiday, teach them how to find seeds on flowering plants.
As I explained last week, let the children find the seeds, put them into the tray in the sunshine and after a couple of weeks they can press the seed pods and hear the seeds fall onto the newspaper.
I’m sure this will keep them interested for hours.
Also, how are the plants in your containers and baskets?
And are you dead-heading every day?
Hopefully they are still looking good and they should still be excellent in a month’s time if you keep maintaining them.
If you have been on holiday and the baskets and containers look a bit sad, give them a good drink and then cut the stems back the where you can see a side shoot.
Instead of giving them a feed of tomato fertiliser, encourage more growth by watering with Maxicrop Complete plant food – it’s a liquid feed which is diluted with water.
The nitrogen in this natural feed will invigorate the plants and, in about three weeks, the plants will look wonderful again. In fact, you may find they look better than they did in July.
It’s a good idea to give plants a good drink rather than a squirt through a hosepipe.
Q: I grow indoor chrysanthemums in a serious way but the Christmas blooms are often attacked by grey mould which ruins them. Is there a way of preventing this? DL, Hambledon.
A: Turf can be laid at any time as long as the soil is moist. Have a look at rolls of turf, they are so easy to lay. I have sent you a previous article about preparing the soil, fertilser and using a scaffold plank so that you can do a really good job. Like most things, preparation leads to perfection.
Q: The dreadful winds ruined my display of petunias. I am wondering if I cut them all down to about three inches, would they bloom again this summer? GD, Hayling Island.
A: Yes, use scissors and cut them down to the lowest green leaves. Give them a good drench of Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser and in three weeks they will be in bloom again.
Jobs for the weekend
■ Plant out spring hearting cabbages in rows two feet apart, with the plants only nine inches apart.
■ Have you seen the Sternbergia bulbs in packets at garden centres? These gems look like golden crocus but flower in the autumn – there’s still time to find some.
■ When digging out potatoes, cut the haulms down to four inches and remove all weeds. Put the haulms into a wheelbarrow, the less they are thrown around, the less chance there is of spreading potato blight.
■ Have a look around to see where you can get some manure, stables will often have some. Leave it in bags until November when it will be ready to dig in.
■ Keep a sharp eye out for scorching on the lower leaves of runner bean plants - this is due to red spider mite. Spray with Pyrethrum liquid during the late evening to control this pest. It is essential to spray the backs of the leaves as that is where the pests are seen.