Oh England, how you’ve changed!
By Boyd Douglas-Davies
I have now been writing this article for 10 years so I thought I would look back to the first one I wrote to see what I said then. Oh my, how times have changed in just 10 years! This was the opening paragraph….
“Is this summer the new spring for gardeners? The almost constant rainfall and decidedly cool temperatures will have had many gardeners concerned that the planting season has passed them by. However, this is not the case as there has never been a better time to start planting, it is not too late to brighten up your garden with summer colour. Now is the perfect time to plant shrubs, normally this time of the year would see the soil being too dry. However, after the prolonged rainfall, the soil is still relatively wet and warm creating the ideal planting conditions”
We certainly can’t be concerned about too much rain this summer! Water shortages are a real challenge now and in future and we all have a part to play in both reducing our usage and capturing what we are given – no need for me to remind you about the importance of water butts!
Plants are known to improve air quality and reduce temperature, both physically and psychologically. Living walls in London, and other cities, will have helped reduce temperatures in July. A shady spot in your garden will be very welcome, a fence clothed in foliage provides wildlife habitats and environmental benefits. Following the recent record temperatures, a detailed heat map of the UK was released and initial reports confirm that temperatures were lower where a high quantity of plants was present.
How do we ensure that plants flourish in these high temperatures? A great demonstration of good plant care can be seen at the Ball Colegrave trial grounds at Adderbury. I visited them the day after the record temperatures were recorded. The plants still looked superb (search for me on youtube to see a video shot that day) for three reasons…
Baskets and pots were connected to a micro irrigation system with drippers delivering water to the compost, zero waste and a regular steady supply.
Plants in smaller pots were on water-tight benches that allowed the plants to draw up water as required. If ever evidence of why you should invest in saucers for your garden pots was needed then this is it!
Watering in the cool – the team were starting very early in the morning and ensured the planted beds and borders had a good soak before the heat caused the water to evaporate. At home spending, a few minutes outside before breakfast is valuable and even more valuable is a late evening watering session.
The team at Ball Colegrave have been running the trial grounds for 59 years so I think they know a thing or two about growing. We are proud to offer many of their varieties in our garden centres. Most years they throw the gates open for a public open evening, keep an eye on their website for 2023 dates, //www.ballcolegrave.co.uk/Gardeners
What else did I write about in 2012? Plant prepared hyacinths in late August to have flowers for Christmas. Plant potatoes now in a pot or sack to have a fresh crop on Christmas Day. Take cuttings now of your favourite fuchsias, geraniums etc to have extra plants next spring. Deadhead summer bedding regularly to encourage further flowers and feed every week until the end of August with tomato food.