With the bulbs fading and the herbaceous border overflowing it’s clear that summer is fast approaching.
Sowing and planting out bedding can begin in some areas of the UK, depending on regional weather variations. It’s also time to get back into the lawn-mowing regime, a fortnight of showers having likely left the mower in the shed and this month’s warmer temperatures adding to the rampant growth of your grass.
Things to do…
Flowers, Fruit and Veg.
It’s time to start sowing and planting – tubs and window boxes can be planted up with summer bedding in milder areas in preparation for the flowering season.
Keep on top of general gardening tasks by deadheading tulips and daffodils and regularly hoeing off the weeds before they get out of hand.
Water in the garden is a great attraction for biodiversity. Any water that runs down a gentle slope into a depression is a wonderful opportunity to create a mini wetland or pond and a wildlife-friendly environment. Plants suitable for growing in these low-lying places include tree ferns, arum, aristae, sedge, crinum lily, wild iris (dietes), moraea, dwarf glory bush (Dissotis canescens) and red-hot pokers (kniphofia).
Trees and shrubs
Creating a rich habitat of trees, shrubs and flowers are the key to providing wildlife with year-round food.
Include a variety of plants: evergreens, fruit trees, colourful cottage garden plants, annuals, and wildflowers to prolong flowering and fruiting times and give a year-round food resource.
A well-managed area of trees, shrubs and flowering plants of different structures will support many kinds of wildlife. Ranges of different structures and ages have many benefits, such as somewhere for birds and insects to breed, feed and shelter.
This is the key time to clip evergreen hedges, before too much growth destroys the shape, but do take care and check for nesting birds before clipping.
Put supports in place for herbaceous plants before they are too tall, or for those – like peonies – that produce heavy blooms.
Apply shade paint to the outside of the glass or use blinds on sunny days to prevent sunshine damaging plants. On warmest days open doors and vents to increase ventilation.
Damp down the floor of the greenhouse regularly on hot days, to increase humidity levels. This benefits plant growth and also reduces the risk of pest problems such as glasshouse red spider mite.
Ensure new lawns (either from turf or seed) do not dry out during and try to keep off them for as long as possible to allow the new grass to establish well.
Birds and Wildlife
If you are putting food out for the birds in the garden, there is always a risk of cats catching them. To help prevent this here are a few simple measures:
· Avoid putting food on the ground; use a tall bird table that cats cannot reach.
· Place feeders high off the ground but away from surfaces from which a cat could jump.
· Place spiny plants (such as holly) or an uncomfortable surface around the base of the feeding station to prevent cats sitting underneath it.
· Place an upturned tin or cone underneath the table to prevent cats from climbing the post.
· Make the table-stand slippery using a metal post, or plastic bottles around non-metal posts.
Plant wildlife-friendly vegetation; such as prickly bushes and thick climbers in the garden to provide secure cover for birds.
These should be close enough to where birds feed to provide cover, but not so close that cats can use it to stalk birds. This kind of planting may also provide food and nesting sites.
Reclaim and Recycle
Paper pot – why not use old newspapers to make pots for seeds and seedlings; plant straight into the soil and get rid of all those plastic seed pots and trays.
Collect your rainwater and investigate ways to recycle water for irrigation. A simple solution is a water butt or rain barrel. It’s not only environmentally friendly but will cut your water bills too.
Another money saver is solar lighting in the garden. The sun’s energy is clean, endless and free. Solar lights work by using a small solar panel, which you place in a location where it can absorb light from the sun. The panel converts the light it absorbed in the daytime into enough electricity to keep the lights on all night.
That way you can take full advantage of your garden even when the sun goes down.