Bugs and Birds……….

 

After agonising over whether to save to save the appearance of my climbing roses earlier in June/July by spraying to control the mildew and aphids, I decided to hold back and see if nature would rescue them on her own.

RobinOf course it didn’t stop me from squishing a few aphids between finger and thumb! But just this week, I was rewarded for keeping it all natural by the surprising sight of two Robins filling their beaks with afore mentioned aphids and all manner of bugs and caterpillars.

 

They are obviously bringing up a late batch of babies and have nested above my water butt in some ivy right by the back door.

DSC00986They are a truly gorgeous sight – bold as brass, and very busy keeping my insects under control. Well worth a few dud roses…..

For information on feeding birds check out http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpingbirds/feeding/how.aspx

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Too darn hot ….

Helping your garden through this hot weather is no easy thing. My trusty water butt is dry and I’m having to water every day to keep things looking green. The good news is that established roses, lavender and many summer flowering perennials are loving the heat. Mediterranean style gardens & planting schemes are looking particularly good in this heat and light, but even so they still need regular watering. Here are some tips for the summer:

- Container Gardening: Before planting in pots, particularly terracotta,  line with plastic (bin bags, used compost bags etc) to stop water being absorbed into the pot. Avoid using metal containers in full sun, especially window boxes which are shallow, as they heat up and ‘cook’ roots and dry out soil even quicker. Use stones or gravel on the surface of the soil/compost as a mulch to prevent moisture loss. Stand pots on trays, saucers etc so that water running through the pot isn’t wasted.

- Mulching: After a thorough watering of borders, add a bark mulch to help retain moisture in the soil, or gravel and stones depending on the style of garden you have.

- Water Butt: If you don’t have one – get one! When it eventually rains it will store vital, clean water, & we all have a responsibility to conserve as much as possible.

- Watering: Pots need watering every day in this weather obviously. With borders tt’s better to water long and thoroughly, letting the water get deep into the soil, every couple of days rather than a quick 10 mins every day.

Choice Plants for Late Summer Colour. There are many gorgeous additions for your garden in late summer which will extend interest right through to autumn. For some impact & movement try adding a grass or group of grasses is space permits. colour comes in many forms from perennials to bedding plants – just pick the right aspect, sun or shade, border or container and sit back to enjoy!

Miscanthus Morning Light

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’

For a sunny spot, and giving interest late summer through winter Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ has slender emerald green blades with narrow cream margins, arching gently at their tips to create a ‘fountain’ effect

Phlox

Plox

Verbena Bonariensis (2) 25Aug

Verbena Bonariensis

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Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’

Echinacea Rubinglow

Echinacea ‘Rubinglow’

It goes beautifully with blues, purples and silvers such as Verbena bonariensis, & Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’ and even deep pinks such as Echinacea purpurea ‘Rubinglow’. Phlox, an old fashioned cottage garden favourite works well and will take a bit of shade.

For a shadier corner, and lovely between evergreen ferns is the japanese anemone Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’which lights up a shady space and flowers throughout late summer into autumn.

Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'

Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’

 

 

It may be cold ….

It may be cold, it may be wet, but plenty of garden enthusiasts seem to be getting ahead of the game and enquiring this month about having a new garden designed and built. Despite the snow, sleet and rain people’s thoughts are all about gardens; this is great news – starting early with the design process means you have more time to select and book the right landscaper to get your garden underway before they get completely booked up. Before you know it spring has slipped by and summer is fast approaching – just when you want to be using your garden.

But back to the cold weather…….
There are some excellent early flowering plants which can give your garden a boost, so it’s worth having a look at those bare winter borders and planning where to inject some interest and colour.

 

blog-Sarcococca hookeriana varFor a shady spot and perfect for London town gardens try Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna.

Also known as sweet box, this compact evergreen shrub is perfect for planting close to an entrance or path. Don’t be fooled by the tiny, unassuming flowers – their vanilla-like scent is one of the strongest and most delicious winter fragrances.

 

blog-Viburnum x bodnantense DawnFor those with a bit of space try Viburnum × bodnantense ‘Dawn’.

This is an upright, deciduous shrub. Dense clusters of fragrant, dark pink flowers appear on bare stems from November to March. Plant in full view of window so you can appreciate the burst of winter colour from the comfort of your home, or even better close to a path to enjoy the fragrance.