The last month of summer has arrived and it’s usually one of the hottest months of the year making watering essential. Try to use grey water wherever possible. If you are going on holiday then invest in a self-watering system so you don’t return to a disaster! Top Tip: Don’t throw away tired looking pots and hanging baskets. Simply pot them into larger pots or baskets. The extra fresh compost will encourage a new growth spurt, and the plants will receive more water and nutrients prolonging your display. 10-minute jobs: •Take cuttings of tender perennials such as Pelargonium, Salvia and Osteospermum. •Alpines that have developed bare patches of die-back, or have become weedy, can be tidied up by in-filling the patches with gritty compost. This will also encourage new growth. •Prune summer flowering shrubs once the flowers have finished, eg Hebes, lavender and rosemary. Feature on: Wildflowers An important wildlife habitat, a wildflower meadow provides a valuable source of food and breeding opportunities for bees, butterflies and hoverflies. Fortunately, you don’t need a large area of land to create your own wildflower area – a small plot of land or even a large container is sufficient for growing a ‘mini meadow’ There are two key times for planting wildflower plants seeds, which are Spring (March to May) and Autumn (Mid-August to October). The key factors affecting Wildflower seeds are as follows; • Temperature. Wildflowers a regular spell of consistent warmer weather (10°C or above) • Frost. If planting in spring avoid late frosts which could kill the seedlings. • Water. Like grass seed, wildflower meadows require moist soil to germinate. • Depth of seed. It is particularly important that the seed is not buried too deep. Ideally it should be sown on the surface and lightly raked in. Wildflowers can be perennials or annuals. Perennial wildflowers grow from the same plant year after year after year, such as Oxeye Daisies, yarrow and cowslips. Annual wildflowers are the ones that grow from seed, bloom and die all within the space of 12 months such as poppies and cornflowers. If the soil fertility is too high perennial wildflowers rarely flourish. Growing both, and allowing plants to set seed before cutting back in Autumn will have different results year after year. For the first few years its advisable to continue sewing annual wildflowers so that the seed bank increases in the soil. Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) is a semi-parasitic wildflower that weakens and suppresses the growth of coarse grasses, allowing other wildflowers to flourish. Step-by-step: A very easy method to create your own ‘mini-meadow’ is to use plug plants. You will need: • Modular tray or small pots. • Sieved compost or seed compost • A selection of suitable wildflower seeds • A tray of water Step One: Fill a seed tray or modular tray with compost. Stand in a tray of water.
Step Two: When the soil is moist sow seeds directly on soil surface, large seeds can be sewn individually in modular trays. Lightly cover with vermiculite or sieved compost.
Step Three: Once the seedlings are large enough prick out into individual pots to grow on. Or for seeds started in modular trays plant out into the garden. Oxeye daisies 33 days after sewing. Step Four: When it’s time to plant out, simply mow your lawn and remove all grass clippings, then plant the plugs at random intervals (five per square metre). You can also plant plugs into bare soil.
Whatever August brings, I hope you are able to enjoy some time relaxing in your garden. Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk