Steer issue 23 June 2019 - Page 12

At this time of year, I like to spend some time in my garden with a notepad and a pen. With the exception of the
spring bulbs, all the plants are in leaf. They have grown as
much as they were going to during the year. It is a good
time to take stock.
Is every plant earning its keep? Are they all healthy and
thriving? Is the design working well? If this is the case in
your garden, congratulations! No need for you to read on.
However, if your garden is ‘normal’- i.e. work in progress
– go and take a critical look at it, notepad and/or camera
in hand. Are the borders looking a bit sparse? Should they
be made wider to make space for larger plants? Have
most of the shrubs got small leaves so that they visually
blend together? How about adding something with contrasting foliage: large, variegated or purple? Amongst the
flowers, is there a colour theme or a colour mish-mash? Is
there space for an ornamental grass or three to add some
movement? Have some shrubs outgrown their space?
What is standing out the most in your garden picture: an
attractive tree, or an old shed? And so on.
Once you have assessed and documented the development needs of your garden, don’t rush ahead with the
implementation. The best time for planting trees and
shrubs is November, and February and March are the best
months for hard pruning.
A few TOPICAL TIPS for late summer.
Lawn recovery
Did your lawn turn brown during the summer? The green
colour will return but it may be patchy. Don’t just leave the
dead patches or weeds will move in. Instead, scrape off
with a rake as much of the dead thatch as you can, spread
a thin layer of weed-free topsoil and re-seed. Keep it damp
until the new grass is growing strongly.
For a perfect lawn, the late summer routine would be:
scarification, aeration, feeding, top dressing, re-seeding.
To be done after the grass is back to being green and
growing. But if you only do one thing, let it be an application of an autumn lawn feed. It is especially formulated to
keep the grass green and to strengthen it in preparation
for winter.
Wildlife pond tidy-up
Pond plants can now be taken out and divided, or removed, without disturbing the wildlife too much. Before
throwing away any plants, leave them by the pond for a
day or so for any little creatures to crawl back into the
If there are trees nearby, fit a net over the pond, to catch
any falling autumn leaves.
Planting spring bulbs
So many to choose from! But if you want an easy life, go
for the stalwarts: daffodils, tulips (plant in November to
avoid the disease called Tulip Fire), hyacinths, crocuses.
Give them sunny locations, although short-stemmed daffodils will also do well in semi-shade.
It is a good idea to plant your bulbs close to perennials
that form a mound of leaves in spring and summer, for example lady’s mantle, cranesbills or ferns. Their new spring
foliage will hide the withering leaves of the bulbs.
Plant the bulbs in groups of several close together to
form clumps of colour. Mark each group with a label, a
stick, a stone – anything to stop you digging into them if
you later decide to plant something else in that area. If you
are anything like me, you will NOT remember where you
had put them!
Eva Girling MSc (Hort) is a
gardening coach and adviser
from Kent, UK


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