Remove dead flowers now and watch plants bloom in autumn | Gardening

Our delphiniums were very slow to come into bloom this summer but they turned out to be the best ever.

By Brian Kidd
Friday, 21st August 2020, 12:32 pm
Updated Friday, 21st August 2020, 12:33 pm
Beautiful Delphiniums in bloom.
Beautiful Delphiniums in bloom.

We put in single canes to each flower stem so that the foliage hid the canes. The little trick is to cut off the top of the canes just below the spire of flowers.

The plants have now been cut back, leaving just two feet of the magnificent foliage. The soil has been forked to a depth of only about four inches and the plants have been given a good soaking of Maxicrop All Purpose plant food because we would like some more spikes of blooms in October.

Lots of herbaceous plants won’t come into bloom again after the first flush of flowers but there are quite a few which will continue to bloom if the plants have all the dead flowers removed. A very good example is an Erigeron called Elstead Pink and Erigeron Blue Waves – these bloomed in June, were cut back hard leaving just the rounded shape of foliage. I fed them like I just mentioned and today they are in full bloom again and will continue into autumn, as long as the dead flowers are removed regularly.

Herbaceous phlox will bloom again if the main head of dead flowers is taken off down to a side shoot with tiny flower buds.

Something was eating the leaves on just one Hosta called Diana. I went out to have a look after dark in order to cool off a bit and I am so glad I did because I found the little culprits called earwigs.

They were given the size 10 treatment on smooth paving. We are now trapping them by upturning a clay flower pot with rolled up newspaper inside, placed on a stick only eight inches tall and placed alongside the hosta. The earwigs eat all night and then crawl into the newspaper which is unfolded in the mornings so that they too get the size 10 treatment.

We had another problem – huge rips in the leaves of the Ligularia called Desdemona, we both thought is couldn’t be slugs or snails because it has been so dry and the hedgehogs eat them at night.

I watered the soil and put down three rhubarb leaves on top of each other on the ground alongside the Ligularia. I had a look the following morning and found three large snails. I don’t like killing snails so they were taken to a piece of wasteland full of docks three miles from where we live and I feel sure they are very happy there! It’s no good throwing them over to the neighbours garden. Snails are to return; but hopefully they won’t normally slide three miles.

We are moving to the Isle of Wight in a few weeks time and our chosen bungalow has a tiny patio garden with a fast running deep stream which runs down to the River Yar. I want to be near our son Christopher and his lovely partner Liz.

Our wonderful editor Mark has asked me to continue writing for The News and I am very pleased to continue. The News and you loyal readers have been very good to me, particularly recently while I have been ill.

It will take a long time but I am feeling a little better. Thank you for your get well cards.

Jobs for the weekend

Plant out spring hearting cabbages in rows two feet apart with the plants only nine inches apart. Water really well. Every other one can be thinned out over winter to provide fresh greens.

Sternbergia look like golden crocus but flower in the autumn – there’s still time to find some. Outdoor Amaryllis and colchicum bulbs are in at garden centres.

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 an 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, especially the backs of the leaves.

Questions and answers

Q: I bought a very lovely Aucuba shrub which I have planted in a large tub. I wanted two but would like them exactly alike. If I take a cutting from the original will the new one be the same? I never looked at this shrub before but changed my mind after reading your article. – ND, Hayling Island.

A: Yes, take a cutting right away, it will be exactly the same. Remove all the leaves apart from the tip and three extra leaves. Insert in a sandy compost, keep moist and essentially in the shade. It will root in five/sixweeks.

Q: I noticed huge slugs eating the leaves on my dahlias. There are hedgehogs living under my neighbours shed. How can I encourage them to visit my garden? – BE, Waterlooville.

A: Speak to your neighbours and make arrangements to saw a small area of wood at the base of the fence at ground level. The hole only needs to be about six inches . The hedgehogs will eat the slugs.

Q: We saw an advert offering factory hens. It is sponsored by a charity. They arrived, lots of missing feathers and anything but tame, We clean them out once a week. Is it okay to put the droppings and straw into the compost bin? – D and PB, Cosham.

A: Yes, I have shortened your letter but I’m very pleased they have settled and are now laying eggs. Kindness always pays off.