July, August and September – these are (or should be) the lazy, hazy days of summer when we all can enjoy long evenings in our garden with friends, go along to a barbecue or a summer party and enjoy the view of the flowers we planted last month.
The work in the flower garden slacks off a little during these months but to keep everything looking good, walk around your garden once or twice a week, taking a close look at the plants. Remove any dead heads not forgetting to remove the seed pods as well, a good antidote for the relief of stress after a busy day. If the seed pods remain on, all the energy the plant produces goes to make seeds and reduces the number of flowers.
Keep a sharp look out for greenfly and other aphids and keep a ready to use spray of insecticide to hand to zap them at first sight. They are usually found on the growing tips and unfolding flowers and stems. These insects can devastate your tubs and hanging baskets in a very short time, particularly during dry weather when the plants are under stress and drooping through lack of water.
The cells of the plant during this time are soft and easy for the aphid to pierce and start to suck and feed on the sap. Once established on the plant they reproduce rapidly so the sooner they are discovered and controlled the better. Treat them with an insecticide safe to use such as Rose Clear that will also control mildew and rusts. Remember to always read the instructions on the bottle and only mix as much as needed at any one time.
Water and feed with a high potash fertiliser such as Tomorite or Miracle Gro to encourage flower production. If you are one of those who are unable to plant out your garden because of other commitments there is still time to enjoy the beauty that flowers provide.
Most garden centres have a range of ready planted tubs, pots and hanging baskets to suit every pocket and for a quite modest investment you can soon transform your terrace, patio garden or balcony into a blaze of summer colour.
With the increase in recent years of solar powered lighting now available, low cost garden lights powered by the sun's energy are ideal for adding to containers or from the hook above your hanging basket. This creates a new dimension to the patio and garden after dark. Invest in one or two and see what a difference they make.
For many years now we have been making colour bowls as we call them. These are containers filled with a variety of patio plants to give maximum colour impact. I like experimenting with the plants using different colours and growth habits together. Sometimes the effects are quite stunning and others not quite what I expected but it is never disappointing seeing the plants I grew come to maturity.
This also give me a chance to access the new varieties of plants. Last year we trailed a new trailing Begonia – Million Kisses. This stunning semi-trailing, orange begonia flowers continuously from May through to October with no dead heading or trimming required, it was a great success. Grow 3 plants in a 12” or 14” wicker hanging basket.
Tip from Brian
Going on holiday? Group all your containers together with a little space between them, in the shade away from direct sun. Hanging baskets can be taken down and placed on a bucket of water. Ask a kindly neighbour to check them for you, water regularly and, of course, doing the same for them when they are away. Keeping the hanging basket at the front of the house in good condition is an indicator to an intruder that the house is occupied, but a collection of drooping planters could be an invitation to visit!