Thursday, 13 December 2018

Water wisely ? and whack those weeds

The hot and sunny summer days were somewhat late in arriving, but are now here with vengeance.

The hot and sunny summer days were somewhat late in arriving, but are now here with vengeance.

Do water your gardens wisely. Best always to water in the evening or early morning and bear in mind the principle of ?puddle?, not ?piddle?. Little and often will result in roots growing too shallow and thereby far more susceptible to dry conditions.

Best remedy is to add a generous layer of good organic mulch (at least five inches/2.5 cm). The mulch will not only improve the structure of the soil, but will help to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Consider installing an inexpensive drip irrigation system (such as Agralan soaker hose) linked to your outdoor tap with a timer.

This can be crucial for any newly planted herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees, all of which take around two years to fully settle and establish. The hose can be unsightly, but if covered with a layer of mulch, will not be visible and will reduce evaporation even further. Dead-head roses and cut down flower stalks of all your perennials to about an inch above ground level once they have finished flowering.

This will encourage strong growth and you might even be rewarded with a second flush of flowers at the end of the season. Stay on top of weeding with the use of a hand fork and/or hoe. Rather than using excessive systemic sprays on perennial weeds which seldom prove effective, invest in a ?horihori? Japanese trowel (available to purchase online from Niwaki).

It has a seven-inch carbon steel blade which allows you to remove even the most stubborn roots of perennials such as stinging nettles and brambles, as well as the dreaded ground elder and bindweed.

Keep an eye out for aphids (black and greenfly) on buds and new shoots, as well as red spider mite. These are best sprayed with a systemic insecticide. The most effective on the market in my opinion is Provado Ultimate Bug Killer, whilst Rose Clear will help you keep on top of any signs of black spot, powdery mildew or rust on your roses as well as aphids. Now is also a good time to remove any dead or diseased branches of trees, as all should be in full leaf.

Any branches not showing signs of life should be removed. Preferably, back to the adjoining branch or stem. Be vigilant for ash dieback as well as dieback of robinia.

The Forestry Commission has an excellent video on Yout Tube to help you identify Ash dieback. Be sure to apply for planning permission prior to commencing any work and any diseased cuttings should be disposed of responsibly.

* With an eye for detail, Louise Venter has a lifetime?s experience in horticulture, extensive plant knowledge and is a practising garden designer. her sensitivity to the environment, style and age of each property and attentive consideration of her clients? brief is evident in all her projects, both large and small. For more details call 0780 3583687, e-mail, or visit: www.LouiseVenterGardenDesign.

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