Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
IN our small part of Ireland we are experiencing the sort of summer that we long hoped for, with a high proportion of dry and balmy weather and the rain appearing for a day or two to keep things moist. This means that we can enjoy our garden without much input and are able to have more leisure times without any guilt complexes kicking in.
Cultivating, digging or otherwise disturbing the ground will result in a new crop of weeds down the road. It is difficult to avoid this if you are growing an annual crop like vegetables and summer flowers. Chemical control was one traditional method but as these are being withdrawn we have to rely on alternative methods, such as weed fabric and bark mulch. Constant hoeing, hand weeding will work if you get the weeds in time but those that get away 60cm (2’) can be cut down with clippers, strimmers or hedge shears and then hoed or pulled.
There is a sea change in the availability of composts and there is more organic material going into them as peat gets reduced further. I do not know yet but ever since I have used these more organic composts they seem to produce new crops of weeds, whereas the old peat composts were sterile and weed free. I wonder if anyone out there has experienced any changes this year and on this I would welcome any feedback.
Plants need some care, especially during the establishment period, and respond when given support by making sure they are going into a good quality soil, are kept weed and pest free, watered, fed and trimmed if needed. Established plants like trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials that are planted over a year generally need no attention regardless of the weather.
Some climbing plants will need a support throughout their lives as, in the wild, they would be seen rambling among the vegetation and trees, so for clematis, honeysuckle and wisteria in particular, you can manufacture a wooden, metal or plastic support. There might be a case for supporting some herbaceous perennials such as delphiniums, crocosmia and old fashioned varieties like the ‘Golden Rod’ but there are dwarf growing types available in many cases.
What to plant
It might appear odd for a garden centre to discourage much planting in July or August and for any large scale planting we do just that but we are happy enough to help with a few plants here and there as the mood or need arises. Leaving the summer flowering annuals aside there is merit in obtaining some perennials and getting them settled in before the winter and they include varieties of Agastache, Dahlias (bronze Bishop varieties), Geranium (herbaceous type), Heuchera (Indian Summer varieties) and the ever popular phlox.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Regular watering and the occasional feeding of containers, vegetables and flowers is the main occupation in keeping plants growing. We water late in the evening and find this is also a therapeutic occupation and, of course, this is the ideal time for the plants to absorb moisture. Sometimes we have to give a quick top-up in the mornings when it is exceptionally hot. If you head away for longer than a few days just put all the easily moveable containers into a shaded area where they will not dry out too much. If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on 051-384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future article.