I don’t know about you, but I felt that the garden went over really quickly this year.
After a promising start at the end of May, followed by a good June with an occasional downpour, it was all going well. Then July came and was so hot and dry that stuff that should have lasted into August ran out of steam.
The large pots out at the front needed watering at least twice a day and by then my water butts were empty so goodness knows what the water bill will be!
But I resisted getting the hosepipe out except on a couple of desperate occasions.
Talking of hosepipes, may I implore you not to do that ‘waving the thing vaguely in the direction of the plants’ that I see on a regular basis? What is the point? Are you trying to water the air?
Take any device/attachment off the thing and lay it at the base of the plants and turn the tap on. Walk away!
Come back later and move the hosepipe to another parched area and repeat.
The water needs to penetrate the soil down to the roots, not be sprinkled over the top. If dryness persists, you will only need to do this once a week or so.
So if it’s all looking a bit jaded you might need a few bits to perk the place up and keep it going into autumn. What better than our home-grown Chrysanthemums?
They make low domes of colour and are probably most useful popped into pots by doors or seating areas. They are grown in large three-litre plastic pots so you can just sit the plastic one inside a nice terracotta or ceramic one of your own.
Deadheading will prolong the flowering and they should see you through until the first of the cold weather.
All the summer bedding is well and truly over now so we will be looking forward to getting the first of the winter pansies in. Along with the spring bulbs, these are the mainstays of winter planting. If your pots of summer stuff look a sight, turf the lot out and replant with some new, fresh plants as once they’re over, they’re over.
The other thing you could do is to direct sow annuals – things like Eschscholzia (Californian Poppy), Nigella damascena (Love-in-a-Mist), annual poppies, Orlaya grandiflora (White Lacecap), Calendula (English Marigold), cornflowers and so on can all be sown on to bare earth. Keep watered once they germinate and they will establish a good root system before the cold sets in and be stronger, more advanced plants than spring-sown ones. You may lose some in a really bad winter but a packet of seed is cheap.
Last week I wrote about tulips but don’t forget about all the other little glories that come in bulb form. Things like Scilla, Chionodoxa, Iris reticulata, Muscari, crocus and hardy cyclamen. Plant them in their own pots and top the pot with grit for a professional finish. To be honest, I’d leave the packs of dry snowdrop bulbs alone and wait for the ones that are lifted ‘in the green’ – usually about February – as you’ll get a much better result.