SUMMER IN THE GARDEN
After such a glorious Spring we are experiencing a rather changeable spell of weather so typical of a Scottish Summer! The un-seasonally strong winds have been the main problem for the plants but despite this they are growing away well providing colour and for those of us who grow vegetables, produce for our tables as well.
Remember to regularly remove faded flowers. This process known as 'dead-heading' is especially beneficial for summer bedding and Roses. A pleasant contemplative task to do every few days this can become one of those rituals that provide calm in a troubled world.
There are still seeds that can be sown in July and August so it's worth checking if you have any seed left that will do well if sown now. For vegetables try Carrots, Beetroot, Salad Leaves and Spinach for late Summer/Autumn crops. Several flowers can be sown now as Hardy Annuals to give flowers next Spring, such as Nigella, Cornflower and Larkspur.
This is a good time to harvest herbs for drying or freezing. Soft herbs such as Parsley and Basil are best mixed with butter and frozen in small cubes to use in cooking. Rosemary and Thyme are easy to dry then store in jars in a dark cupboard.
Pot up self-sown seedlings of early flowering plants to grow on and re-locate next year or share with friends. Aquilegia, Foxgloves, Hellebores and Alchemilla mollis all self-sow very readily and rather than tip them on the compost heap pop them in a pot for someone else to enjoy.
If you have a Philadelphus (Mock Orange) in your garden prune it once the flowers have faded. This is one shrub that really does benefit from an annual pruning to avoid it getting congested and lanky with fewer flowers to enjoy. Cut back branches that have flowered to strong new growth as this will bear next year's flowers.
Clip privet and other fast growing hedges to keep them neat. Box (Buxus sempervivum) can also be clipped until around the end of August or early September.
Take softwood cuttings of Pelargoniums (also known as Geraniums), Fuchsia and other frost-tender plants so you can grow them on under cover to ensure you have plants for next year.
Plant specially prepared bulbs like Hyacinths, for forcing, if you want a display at Christmas. These usually appear in the garden centre around late August.