Garden Jobs for July
"Deadhead the flowers that have grown over to stop the plant from sending energy to the flower head, and instead reroute the energy to the new flowers about to come through."
With June now in the background, I’m confident that July will bring more of the same sunny weather. Working in 30 degree heat has taken its toll on my workforce – even with plenty of cold drinks and a few ice lollies along the way, it has really slowed us down like never before. For the first time in our history we have had to call days short due to the heat, and I would suggest you do the same, as sun stroke and heat exhaustion can creep up on you slowly and hit with a sharp sting!
Talking of stings, I hope you are looking after our black and yellow friends. The bees are buzzing around like mad in the gardens right now, working hard to pollinate the trees and flowers for us to enjoy over the coming years. In many of my gardens we deliberately plant bee-friendly plants to encourage the bees to work hard for us. As for their reward: some amazing plants on which to get drunk on nectar. I have some amazing pictures of the bees doing their thing – it’s an amazing sight to behold and one I never really appreciated until recent years. If you’d like to know more I would encourage you to look up the Oxfordshire Beekeepers Association – they are bee fanatics and always ultra-helpful with educating people on the plight of the bee and how best to look after them.
Here at Me My Spade & I we are always working hard in the gardens we have looked after for many years, but right now we have seen a huge surge in requests for help in new gardens, and I’m sure that this is largely thanks to all the wonderful publicity that OX Magazine have given us. The new gardens include a one acre woodland plot. I’ve never had the chance to work in a woodland garden before, and this brings its own challenges but lots of fun nonetheless. We are also in talks with the owner of a ten acre garden right next door, as they have seen the impact Me, My Spade & I have made, so watch this space for photos of the upcoming planting designs! I have also now taken control of a ten acre garden that was left to rack and ruin for the last ten or so years. We are in the middle of planning this, so more to come as things unfold, but what I can tell you is that we are laying 4,000 rolls of turf over the next month in that very same garden to create a formal lawn.
June also saw the fifth Blenheim Palace Flower Show. Very different to Chelsea Flower Show, Blenheim’s show has few show gardens and lots more hands-on shops. You can really treat yourself to some amazing plants, and take ideas to try out in your own garden.
A subject I am sure you are used to hearing me talk about in this feature, but many people cut their lawns week in, week out, thinking that this is enough. Although it does make your lawn appear neat, you may be unaware of the underlying issues that add up throughout the year – a light rake over the lawn will help keep the thatch at a minimum and weeds at bay. Look to dig out larger weeds that may be showing through, and if possible, apply a light summer feed – this will keep the lawn green and lush.
This time of year means lots of deadheading to keep the plants looking their best. Make sure you deadhead the flowers that have grown over to stop the plant from sending energy to the flower head, and instead reroute the energy to the new flowers about to come through.
By this I don’t mean water plants – although some pots will be in need of water, and a seaweed extract to feed the pots will also be good right now. What I mean is, make the most of the water available right now. We are in the middle of a wet period, so invest in water butts that collect water from drain pipes – natural water is a lot healthier for the plants and is less of a drain on resources.
If you have followed my advice through the year I’m hoping that you, like me, can weed through the flower beds relatively quickly. I managed to go through my garden on Sunday in an hour, simply because I gave the soil a deep dig in the spring, added compost and heavily weeded at the right time. This means I can now get through the flower beds in my garden, along with clients’ gardens, with extreme ease, showing the hard work at the start of the year has paid off.
Some large shrubs or hedgerows will be in need of tidying – the large growth spurt due to the wet weather at the start of June will now make them look bedraggled. Large shrubs like Laurel, Elaeagnus or Berberis will need a summer tidy, with more tender shrubs like Buxus sempervirvens needing a prune. Where possible, use sharp shears and do not cut in full sun; if you do it will scorch the leaves which will leave the plant not looking very nice at the time of year you want it to look its best.
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