Your Lymington Garden in Late Summer
Every month there is something which needs doing in the garden!
Late summer is always a funny time in the horticultural calendar. The colour is fading, and the garden is beginning to look so untidy that it is difficult to know where to start. And with the month starting very warm this year it's even more confusing! So (once the school shoes and uniform are sorted!), to help you tackle your garden I thought I’d give you a list of jobs that I consider urgent for this time of year.
Down here in the New Forest and Lymington, we have slightly acidic soil. This is ideal for growing Camellias. To get the best from them, they need to be watered at this time of year so their flower buds will set.
With our recent spell of dry weather, chances are the soil around the Camellias has dried out. It is therefore very important that you water these plants now if you want a good flowering display in Spring. It is best to use rain water as this is slightly acidic, which helps to maintain the conditions Camellias like. Tap water, especially hard water like ours has a high percentage of calcium in it, so only use this water when you really have no alternative. And remember to direct the water onto the roots rather than the leaves of the plant.
If you haven't already pruned your wisteria in August (the ideal month for this job), now is the time.
At the moment you will see that there are lots of long whippy shoots coming off the wisteria. To tidy the plant up cut these shoots back to 5 buds beyond the mainframe of the plant. This will allow the light to get in and ripen the wood so flower buds are formed rather than more leaf buds. By removing the whippy growth, you will also protect the plant from wind damage.
As I am still trying to train my wisteria to grow along the back wall of the house, I am going to leave a few shoots unpruned. These will be tied into position to stop wind damage, and to ensure that they grow where I want them.
In February I will prune the plant back again so there are only 2 buds present beyond the main frame of the plant.
Although it is a bit of a time-consuming exercise, it is well worth doing this job as it will result in more flowers in spring, and the plant will be neatly trained against the house.
Trimming deciduous and evergreen hedges
Generally, this is a good time to trim any deciduous and evergreen hedges.
I also have lots of box balls in my garden as I like the way they give structure to the borders in winter. But you do need to start trimming at this time of the year if you want them to look good later.
This is the only time of the year I trim the box. There are some who suggest trimming in May but this can lead to new softer growth which can be hit by frost. Too much trimming also encourages denser growth, which doesn’t allow the air to circulate. This is the ideal condition for the box blight fungus to thrive, and so should be avoided. As an extra precaution, when I’m trimming the box I ensure that I collect all the cuttings and burn them so I am not reintroducing any box blight spores that may be around, back into the plant.
Giving the garden a general tidy
Since August I feel the garden has begun to look untidy. Lots of the plants have filled or overfilled their allotted space and are no longer flowering. If that is the case in your garden don’t be afraid to cut back any dead flowering stalks or overgrown/dying leaves. This job is especially good for geraniums. They usually have straggly growth coming off a denser clump of leaves. Cut these straggly bits off and you will be rewarded with fresh leaves and in some cases fresh flowers in autumn.
Planting up some pots
As usual my plans to plant up my pots in spring went out the window as work became too busy. I’m going to remedy this by getting some winter flowering pansies and viola to plant in my pots. By planting them up now, I hope to have flowers from autumn until spring.
I am also buying bulbs for my clients, as I know what they want and I need to be sure that the nurseries don’t run out of them. For more specific and unusual bulbs I use Avon Bulbs - but go to any local garden centre and you will see lots of spring flowering bulbs for sale.
Sowing your lawn
If you have been building a garden over the last year now is the time to lay the turf or seed for the lawn. The days are still long enough for the seed to germinate, and there should be enough moisture around to aid this germination.
Jobs on the allotment
In my allotment I have pinched out the top of my outdoor tomatoes as I want to stop any more tomatoes developing as there won’t be time for them to ripen.
I am going to sow some spring cabbage seeds now so they will be ready for the spring .
In another bed I’ll also be growing kale, Swiss chard, and lettuce. Hopefully the slugs won’t get them before I do.
Hopefully these tips on what jobs need to be done now will help your garden look more cared for as well as provide beauty and food in the coming winter and spring months.