The garden is reaching its peak blooming period; a few plants need summer love to keep it in tip-top shape.
After flowering, it’s time to prune the wisteria. Remove the side shoots to five leaves from the main stem; it will return fuller and healthier next season. If you haven’t already, shape rhododendrons, azaleas, and deciduous magnolias before new growth appears.
Deadhead, Pinch, and Cut Back
Early summer stalwarts such as perennial geraniums and delphiniums will bloom again in late August and September if they’re cut back to half their size. Deadheading summer annuals like geraniums, impatiens, cosmos, and petunias will encourage new flowers throughout the season. Do the same for dahlias and roses; the garden will stay alive with color all season long.
Fruits and Vegetables
Make sure to nip off the tips of squash and courgettes to encourage branching, and continue to pinch the tomatoes for fruit until September. Thin out fruit-laden apple, pear, and plum trees by removing damaged fruit, which helps prevent rot and opens the tree up to airflow, keeping it cool during summer heat waves. Add the discarded fruit to the compost.
Continue to weed, especially in the veggie garden and perennial garden beds. Intruders such as dandelion, chickweed, fireweed, or buttercup will spread, competing for the valuable water resources and nutrients the other plants need this time of year.
Harvest peas, beans, carrots, and leafy greens. Mulch under any leftover foliage to add nutrients back to the soil.
Plant, Harvest, Divide
As the bearded iris finishes blooming, divide the clumps so they’ll establish before winter. Bleeding hearts, astilbe, and other late spring bloomers such as bell flowers, Solomon’s seal, lily of the valley, forget me nots, and peonies can also be divided or transplanted. Remember, peonies prefer exposed and shallow roots, so don’t bury them too deep.
If you have a particular garden area where you’d like to see poppies, foxgloves, or columbine grow, collect the dried seed pods and scatter them for next year. Remember that foxglove takes two years from the time of sowing to bloom.
After harvesting the peas, radishes, and beans in the veggie garden, re-seed for an autumn harvest. Do the same for potatoes before mid-July.
Autumn bulbs like cyclamen, fall crocus, and nerines (lily-like late fall bloomers) can all be found at local garden centers, and now is the time to plant them.
By now, you have the watering regime well in hand, but have you noticed how little moisture parts of the garden need? All the mulch and compost you’ve been applying act like a blanket to hold in moisture deep underground for the roots to lap up. And even better, if you’ve created hügelkultur pots or gardens, the underlying compost is doing its job and keeping everything wet when it matters the most.
Keep the bird bath full of clean water or lay out saucers for all the insects and garden friends, like bees and chickadees, who will appreciate a cool drink on a hot summer day.
In the southern hemisphere, it’s the middle of winter, and where the winter frosts have been light, broccoli, cabbage, and other cold hardy vegetables are being planted for spring harvest, just as in the northern hemisphere, the same crops are being planted for mid-fall enjoyment.
Stay tuned as we garden and grow together next month!