A riot of colour pervades gardens at this time of the year as perennials and annuals compete for attention. The soft fragrance of roses, sweet Williams, sweet peas, lilies and dianthus is everywhere, while the spicy scent of the curry plant adds a contrasting note.
Warm sunny days encourage gardeners to relax and enjoy the beautiful plants around them, yet there is always work to be done. Dead head flowers regularly to encourage repeat flowering but make sure you know which type of roses you have in your garden. Old rose varieties such as Damasks, Gallicas and Moss roses will develop beautiful hips by the autumn if the dead flowers are left in place. Floribundas, hybrid teas and other modern roses will provide at least one more flush of flowers if not more before the season is over if the dead flowers are removed.
Other flowering shrubs such as forsythia and Choisya (also known as the mock orange) can be gently pruned back after flowering as they can grow quite tall.
The soft fruit season is now well underway and raspberries, blackcurrents, gooseberries, white and red currents will quickly be ready for harvesting together with later crops of strawberries. Bushes should be checked daily as the fruit can ripen very fast, especially after periods of sunshine and showers.
In the vegetable garden, salad crops and the first fresh root crops of baby turnips, beetroot and carrots will be appearing. Thinning out root crops by removing some of the young plants will provide tasty crops for the table, while giving space for other vegetables to grow to their full size.
Fresh crops of radishes and lettuce should be sown regularly to provide ongoing crops throughout the autumn. Make sure that these crops are watered during dry periods to decrease the risk of bolting – this is where the vegetables shoot up and provide flower heads rather than the leaves and roots that are required for eating.
With all the rain we have been having, gardens are extremely lush and green. Walking in the garden after the rain is a joy, as the scents of the innumerable flowers are really intense and fresh. It is colourful, beautiful and eyecatching.
Unfortunately, while the rain is great for the plants, it also encourages weeds and grass to grow, causing extra work for the gardener. Lawns are growing very rapidly and need frequent mowing otherwise they quickly become unkempt. Always for the grass to dry out slightly before mowing as this makes for easier cutting. Unless you have a mulching mower which automatically cuts up the grass into tiny pieces, take all mown grass and place it on the compost heap. Add some dry material such as prunings and woody growth otherwise the heap will become too wet and materials will not compost down.
Harvest crops in the vegetable garden on a regular basis. The more you harvest, the more beans and peas you will have. The first raspberries have begun to appear and blackberries, gooseberries redcurrents and white currents will soon be ready. Don’t harvest immediately after a rain shower, allow the fruit to dry as this will increase their storage capability.
Thin out crops of carrots, turnips and beetroot to provide a tasty selection of baby vegetables. Sow more radish and lettuce to give supplies for the kitchen during the early autumn.
The sheer amount of rain means that weeds grow quickly everywhere in the garden. Hoe wherever possible or pull them out by hand as they will compete with your vegetables and flowers for the nutrition in the soil.
As you go round the garden, make a habit of deadheading flowers as you see them. This will encourage more flowers to appear on annual plants such as marigolds, tagates and lobelia. Be careful when deadheading roses to make sure you know which type you have in the garden. Rugosas, damasks and moss roses will develop beautiful red hips if the dead flowers are left in place, whereas floribundas and hybrid teas will produce yet more flowers after deadheading.