By the time we reach the end of June, our hanging baskets are beginning to cascade with flowers, our patio containers are in full bloom and, with hedges and trees fully in leaf, everywhere is looking verdant, lush and summery. The focus now is on keeping the garden looking great, so here are few ideas for jobs to do in the next few weeks to ensure you maximise your garden’s potential.
Cut back or replace plants that have flowered
As soon as early perennials like geraniums and delphiniums finish flowering and start to look ragged and lose their colour, cut them right back to the ground, making space for new planting or for the surrounding plants to develop fully. Do the same for alliums and lilies once they’ve finished.
There’s still plenty of time to put in later flowering bedding plants like peonies or impatiens to add further colour to your borders. Planting should be an ongoing process, rather than a one-off activity.
Harvest lavender and rhubarb
Now is the time to harvest lavender heads for drying – select the best stems just before the flowers open, tie into a bunch and hang somewhere dry. In a few weeks, you’ll have dried flowers for display, or you can shake out the flower heads into muslin bags to use as room scents or drawer fresheners.
Mid-summer is also the time to cut your rhubarb before the stems become too woody. Rhubarb freezes well – blanch one-inch slices for a minute in boiling water, pop straight into iced water and then freeze in a single layer on a freezer tray. Once fully frozen, your rhubarb can be bagged to make it easier to store in the freezer.
Thin out fruit trees and deadhead flowers
Check your pear, apple and plum trees regularly for any early fruit that might be damaged or have been nibbled on by birds. It’s always best to remove these to allow the tree to concentrate its energies on the healthier fruit. For most bedding plants, regular deadheading helps to encourage more flower growth and also makes your displays look much more attractive. Sweet peas also come into this category, and you’ll find that cutting a bunch every day keeps them coming.
Lawn care in the summer months
Your lawn should only need watering if there’s a prolonged dry spell, but it will certainly benefit from a feed every so often with a specialist lawn feed. Whilst it’s always tempting to cut the grass nice and short to make it look neat and professional, it’s actually much better to mow on a longer setting. Longer grass dries out less easily and you’ll avoid brown patches where mosses and other wildflowers have been overcut.
Finally, water borders and pots regularly, and feed all your plants with a general purpose plant food every couple of weeks to top up nutrient levels.
These are all jobs that can fit easily into your daily garden routine and are mostly best done in the early-to-late evening, after which you can sit down with a well-earned glass of something cool and enjoy looking at the fruits of your labour.