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Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 1 - June 2011
What to do now

Ornamental plants

  • Now’s the time to get really stuck into deadheading to prolong your displays and tidy up perennials that have finished flowering.
  • Remove suckers from roses.
  • Propagate shrubs/roses by softwood cuttings, clematis by layering and short-lived perennials (eg pinks) or rock plants by cuttings.
  • Sow biennials, autumn annuals and winter/spring bedding.
  • Harden any containers/baskets which are still growing under cover, and plant up any empty ones.
  • Continue pricking out, potting on and hardening off greenhouse-grown plants.
  • Pinch out the tips of bedding plants (eg fuchsias, marigolds and petunia) to get bushier growth.
  • Carry on supporting and tying in tall perennials in borders and pots.
  • Cut back the foliage from spring bulbs, or lift them, once the foliage has naturally died back.
  • Prune back brooms after they have finished flowering.
  • Divide congested flag iris plants.
  • Water hydrangeas with a colourant if you want to keep them blue.
Fruit and veg
  • Plenty of sowing still do to – lettuce, rocket, spring onion, cauliflowers, radish, annual herbs, pak choi, peas, swedes, kale, endive, French beans, runner beans, sweetcorn, courgettes, turnips and pumpkins can all be sown now. Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and aubergines can also continue to be sown under glass.
  • Start to harvest lettuces, calabrese, rocket, radishes, spring onions, gooseberries, peas, strawberries, early potatoes, overwintered onions and any remaining asparagus.
  • Tie in and pinch out the sideshoots of tomato plants. Start feeding them once a week.
  • Remove male flowers from cucumbers.
  • Cover soft fruit with netting to keep the birds off the ripening fruits.
General tasks
  • Water plants regularly, particularly in dry spells.
  • Keep mowing the lawn regularly.
  • Damp down your greenhouse and provide additional shading if required.
Osteospermum 'Whirlygig'Plant of the month

Osteospermum ‘Whirlygig’ is whirling through borders right now. It has daisy shaped, white flowers with blue centres and deep purple edging. The petal-like rays are spoon-shaped and distinctively close up at night (a “photonastic” response). This evergreen sub-shrub flowers from late spring until autumn. Find out more...

Problem of the monthRose black spot

Black spot is one of the most common problems for roses. It appears as dark brown spots on leaves and, in severe cases, stems. It’s unsightly, weakens plants and can cause die-back of stems. Good hygiene, tidying up debris and the use of fungicides can help, as can planting more resistant cultivars. Find out more...

In the news

Anemone crowned Chelsea Flower Show plant of the year

Anemone 'White Swan' has become the Chelsea champion plant for 2011. It's a compact, long flowering anemone, perfect for small gardens. The petite white flowers have a surprise waiting for the close observer - the petals are pale blue on the reverse!

For peat's sake!

A DEFRA white paper to be published on the 7th June is likely to call for a cessation of peat usage by amateur gardeners by 2020, and by professional horticulturists by 2030.

Gardens make cities cooler

Research by the RHS has shown that urban gardens can significantly reduce city warming. City plants provide shelter and insulation in winter, cooling in summer, reduce the risk of flooding and support biodiversity. So if you're an urbanite - get growing!

The bee's knees

The RHS is currently working with the horticultural trade to encourage gardeners to grow more plants which are good for the UK's pollinating insects. The scheme should introduce a 'Perfect for pollinators' label on plants which fit the bill.


RHS Chelsea Flower Show

This year's Chelsea Flower Show was a real walk on the wild side with a mix of re-claimed materials, naturalistic planting and an eccentric Irishman creating a garden in the sky! If you want to get the Chelsea look, here are some ideas for your own garden:

  • Mix it up! Chelsea designers had great fun this year mixing wildflowers with cultivated plants and bringing ornamental plants into the veg patch...or was it vegetables into ornamental borders?! The message was that you don't need to keep your plants separate - great if you have a small garden and didn't want to have to choose between grow your own and flowers.
  • Re-use, re-claim and recycle. This has been a recurring theme for many years at Chelsea and was back in full force in 2011. Some examples which are practical to try at home include dunking pools to collect rain water (just dunk your watering can in!) and using re-claimed stone for your paving.
  • Green tops. Green roofs are still in vogue (if you can't do an entire roof, why not plant up the top of your coal bunker or have a camomile lawn on top of your garden table?).
  • Ups and downs. Sunken and terraced gardens were featured by several designers this year, giving hope to the many who don't have a perfectly flat garden. The use of water in either defining, or creating a flow through, the different levels is something which could be adopted, albeit on a more modest scale, in many terraced gardens.
  • Shapely stems. Tree stems played a starring roll this year, with raised canopies showing off smooth or entwined stems. This is easily replicated at home by pruning young trees to raise the crown. This can look particularly effective for trees planted within beds or borders as the striking trunks act can as a good foil for informal planting schemes.
  • Vertical gardening. Hardly a bare wall was to be seen at Chelsea, they were all covered, mainly with mats of vertical planting. While this creates a wonderfully dramatic effect, it can be difficult to replicate in the normal garden. However, another way to garden vertically demonstrated at Chelsea was the use of large window wall or boxes. This is much easier to replicate at home - pick a sunny, sheltered wall and fix a series of large window boxes to it, one above the other (leave enough head room for the plants) to whatever height you can water up to. Stuff them full of ornamental and productive plants and wait for your green wall to grow!

Find out about all the Chelsea show gardens, including photos, in our blog...