The arrival of summer!

Roses for summer fragrance and colour.

Sensuous roses confirm the presence of early summer.  The variation in fragrance and the brilliance of their blooms create a magical atmosphere in the garden.  Roses contribute scent, form and colour and can easily be incorporated into any garden scheme.

English shrub rose – A comparatively recent introduction, include many which have rapidly established themselves as firm favourites and are happily, widely grown.

Old shrub roses – Gallica, Damask, Alba, Centifolia and Moss, these are the roses of history, the forerunners of today’s garden shrub roses.  Richly scented, magnificent blooms with lax growth, giving the garden an air of maturity.


Modern Bush Roses – For sheer brilliance of bloom, for innovative colour, for massed display, the modern bush rose will satisfy all such demands and more besides.  Included in this group are the Hybrid Teas, the most popular of all garden roses, multi-flowered Floribundas, and an extensive range of miniature and Patio roses, many ideal for small gardens or pots.

Miniature and Patio roses – Are suitable for today’s smaller gardens and are reliably hardy.

Climbing and Rambler Roses – Cascading from mature trees, draping arches and pergolas, or clothing ancient walls, even covering an unsightly shed, the Climbing and Rambling roses may be put to endless use.  Combine them with a complementory clematis for an eye-catching diplay of colour and interest over the summer period.  Choose from soft, pastel shades, vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows or cooling creams and whites.

Some confusion arises over the terms climbing and rambler.  Essentially the difference is simple, Climbing roses possess larger flowers than those to be found on ramblers, more closely resembling those of other garden roses.  Generally they are likely to repeat their flowering whereas the ramblers flower mainly once only.  The stems of climbing roses are stiff and are generally retained as a framework whilst ramblers have lax stems; those which have borne flowers are cut back to ground level after flowering in August.  Train and tie in new shoots as they develop; feed and mulch following pruning.

Summer bedding will give weeks of colour

Fill the gaps in your borders with bedding plants such as Salvia, Marigold, Nemesia, Verbena, Dianthus and Antirrhinums.  For a shady spot try Begonias or Fuchsias, in full sun Gazanias will give a bright splash of colour or Osteospermums (African Daisy) for pastel shades.  Drought tolerant plants include Geraniums (Pelargonium) in red, pink, coral or white; or Lampranthus and Delospermums with their succulent leaves and bright colours.


For containers and pots that are still empty add some Geranium Fireworks or variegated Geraniums with coloured leaves to brighten up your patio.  Try Petunia Night Sky with petals that look like the ‘Milky Way’ or Petunia Johnny Flame with plum coloured stripes.  New Guniea Impatiens provide a splash of colour in zingy shades of pinks, coral and white.  Add Agryanthemums in pastel colours, Fuchsias in bright pinks and purples or Euryops with bright yellow and grey foliage.  Use Coleus (Solenostemon) with dark leaves as a contrast to all these bright flowers.  If you like dark leaves Begonia Glowing Embers with orange flowers or Begonia Dark Elegance with bright red flowers look stunning in a pot on their own.

Use smaller 9cm pots of bedding plants to trail in hanging baskets or around the edge of containers and pots. Such as Felicia, Bidens, Fuchsia, Diascia, Petunias, Aptenia or Geraniums (Pelargoniums add some trailing foliage with Lysmachia, Helychrysium or Nepeta (Glechoma).  To keep your bedding plants, handging baskets and containers and pots looking good, water and dead head them every day, and feed them once a week.

Gap fillers for your border.

Add Cannas for architectural impact; Dahlias for height and a huge choice of shapes colours.  Gladiolis for bright zingy colours and Lilies for height and colour some such as the Oriental lilies will provide fragrance.

When caring for Dahlias dead head them as the flowers go over to keep them flowering and make sure the taller varieties are staked.  Feed with a high potash feed once a week from midsummer to early autumn.  When the foliage has been damaged by the first frosts, cut back the stems to 15cms, brush off the soil and lift out of the pots.  Place them upside down in a frost-free place to dry naturally. Pack them in boxes of compost or sand, store over winter in a well-ventilated, frost-free place.  Water pots of lilies every day and apply a high-potash feed every 2 weeks.  You may have to stake taller varieties in windy conditions.

Create drifts of colour in the border with perennials.

Lavender looks great in drifts, try the English lavender Hidcote with a deep purple flower or the French lavender, Stoechas in a hot sunny spot as it’s not as hardy in the winter.  Try Achellia with their flat plates of flowers in various shades of pastel colours. Or brighten up a sunny spot with Leucothemum, Echinacea, or Heleniums with their daisy heads.  Include flowers for cutting add Delphiniums, taller varieties of Alstromeria, Leucotheum and Sweet Williams.

Make sure you stake all your tall plants, start at the beginning of the season and keep checking them as they grow.  For the edges of ponds plant drifts of Astilbe with their feathery flowers in white and various shades of pink. Add Rogersia and Rheum for architectural interest.  Try Lobelia cardinalis with its dark leaves and scarlet flowers, which can also be grown as a marginal plant in shallow water.

Home grown summer salads!

Choose an area in shade for part of the day, as this is ideal for salads. Clear away spent crops and weeds thoroughly, break up the soil with a fork until it is an even texture.  Work in garden compost or other organic matter if your soil is thin, use canes and string  to sow seeds in straight lines, as the seeds germinate you will be able to see which are the crops and which are weed seedlings.  Sow beetroot, radish, lettuce and spring onions.


It’ peak planting time now the ground is warm and it is a good month to plant out tender plants like tomatoes, courgettes, chillies, squash and sweetcorn.

Insert a cane when planting tomato plants and tie the main stem to the cane as each plant grows.  The height of the cane will depend on the final height of the tomato variety you grow.  Bush types are left unpinched and only need loosely tying.  Pinch out any shoots that grow between the stem and leaf joints of cordon varieties.  When the plants have reached the top of the cane or have developed 4 trusses of flowers pinch the top out.  Do not let the plants dry out, water each day especially in hot weather and once small fruits form feed the plants with tomato feed added to the water every two weeks.  Pick individual tomatoes as they ripen.

Plant courgettes in a sunny position, water well to settle into the soil and feed with tomato feed every two weeks once the flowers have formed.  Don’t let them dry out they are thirsty plants.  Pick courgettes regularly when they are about 10cms long, cutting through the base of the stem with a sharp knife.  Don’t leave them to grow on our they will turn into marrows overnight.

Sow fast-growing crops to extend your pickings through the season. Radish, carrot, spinach, beetroot and turnip can all be sown in short drills every two to three weeks to keep you in fresh produce.  This successional sowing is a useful technique for gap filling amongst slower crops.  Keep sowing until late August and towards the end of  the summer sow in larger numbers as the growth rate will slow down by the end of the autumn so the more plants you have the better.

In June sow oriental greens like Pak Choi, plant kale for winter crops, sow winter salads.  Sow beetroot, radishes, lettuce, spring onion and turnips. Carrots, French beans, peas, winter cabbage, Swiss chard, radish. Sow some broad beans to harvest at the end of summer.

In July sow beetroot, Calabrese, coriander, French beans, spinach and Swiss chard.

In August sow Swiss chard, lettuce, Pak Choi, rocket, radishes, salad onion, spinach, turnip and spring cabbage.

Keep watering

Watering is crucial to producing a good crop, target plants in the vegetable plot that need watering the most.  The most important areas will be new planting and germinating seedlings, they musn’t dry out.  Swelling fruit and vegetables need plenty of water too.

Established plants need soaking regularly every few days rather than sprinkling every day, this will encourages their roots to grow deeper into the soil to search for ground water.  Tomatoes need plenty of water as the fruit develops, then a bit less as the fruit ripen to encourage an intense flavour.