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Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 14 - July 2012
What to do now

Ornamental plants

  • Continue to deadhead ‘religiously’!
  • Cut back the flowered stems from delphiniums, verbascums and lupins and you might get a second, albeit shorter, display later on.
  • Pinch out the tips of chrysanthemums.
  • Prune shrubs which flowered in early summer (eg lilacs, philadelphus, weigela, deutzia, kerria, spiraea and broom).
  • Check plant ties on trees and shrubs aren’t digging into the stems; loosen them if they are.
  • Trim back yew, privet and lonicera hedges.
  • Trim off the spent flowers of any free-seeding plants, such as Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle), unless you want them to set seed and appear all around your garden!
  • Take cuttings from bedding plants such as marguerites, verbena, pelargoniums, lantana, osteospermums, abutilons, penstemons, argyranthemums, fuchsias, pinks and carnations.
  • Cut lavender and everlasting flowers for drying.
  • Spray roses with fungicide to control blackspot and rust.
  • Collect and sow seeds from biennials such as Sweet William, foxgloves, Canterbury bells, wallflowers and forget-me-nots.
  • Sow autumn and spring bedding such as cyclamen, colchicum, crocuses, nerines, pansies and primulas.
  • Feed houseplants and orchids every week.
Fruit and veg
  • Make sure your veg plot is well watered throughout the summer, otherwise your crop will be greatly reduced.
  • Support and (unless you have bush varieties) pinch out the side shoots on your tomatoes regularly. Increase the frequency of feeding them (with a high potash feed) as the plants develop.
  • Peg down strawberry runners (on the soil surface or onto compost in a pot) to get new plants for next year.
  • Cut back the leaves and runners from strawberry plants which have finished cropping to encourage a bigger crown and, therefore, more flowers next year.
  • Support new canes growing from blackberries, loganberries and summer raspberries – they will bear the flowers and fruit next year. Cut out any you don’t want from the base.
  • Thin out apples, grapes and plums so your crop has enough room to grow.
  • Net brassica crops to keep cabbage white butterflies off them.
  • Pinch out the tops of your climbing beans when they are as high as their supports.
  • Sow beetroot, chicory, Chinese cabbages, endives, lettuces, pak choi, radicchio, radishes, salad leaves, spring cabbages, kohl rabi, French beans, peas, rocket, swedes, Swiss chard, winter spinach, turnips, parsley, basil, coriander and spring onions.
  • Harvest mangetouts, sugarsnap peas, courgettes, rhubarb, okra, early onions, beans, strawberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, peas, spinach, raspberries, cherries, broad beans, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers and calabrese.
  • Cut fresh herbs to dry or freeze for use over winter.
General tasks
  • Mow lawns regularly; though cut them a bit higher than normal in periods of low rainfall.
  • Keep on weeding so your plants have less competition for water and food.
  • Watch out for pests and diseases.
  • Keep your greenhouse well ventilated to prevent overheating and to keep the air moving.
  • Feed plants every week, particularly those growing in containers and grow bags.
  • Set aside some time to sit back with a cold drink and enjoy the fruits of all your hard work!
Rosa 'The Fairy'Plant of the month

Rosa 'The Fairy', this cluster-flowered rose is a bushy shrub which grows to only 60cm height, making it excellent for mid border planting in a cottage style garden or as a low hedge. It flowers in a pretty pink from July into the autumn.

Prune over the winter while the plant is dormant and deadhead regularly to encourage more flowers. Find out more...

Problem of the monthBlossom end rot on tomatoes

Blossom end rot is a nutrient deficiency which predominantly affects the fruits of tomatoes and peppers. A lack of calcium causes black, leathery lesions on the base of fruits. As plants require water to be able to take up calcium, underwatering is a common cause of this problem. The damage cannot be reversed, so remove affected fruit. A good watering and feeding regime should prevent it. Find out more...

In the news

Gardeners are 'grown up'!

According to a Skipton Building Society poll, doing gardening is one of the signs of being a grown up. Their survey of 2,000 people indicated that the top signs of being grown up was having a mortgage and making your own financial decisions. Owning a lawn mower came in at number 15, followed by enjoying gardening at 28 and visiting garden centres at 32.

Telegraph list their top 20 gardeners

The Telegraph has picked their top 20 'garden makers' in a homage to British gardeners alive today who have dedicated themselves to creating a truly special garden. Top of the list comes Marylyn Abbott of West Green House, Hampshire. Second is John Brookes of Denmans, West Sussex and third place goes to Lord and Lady Cavendish of Holker Hall, Cumbria.

Slug attack!

Experts have warned that the mild and wet weather which the UK is experiencing this summer is likely to see an increase in plants affected by slugs. These pests were far less active last summer, when the drier weather kept them dormant underground. Read our slug factsheet to find out what you can do to deter them.

Volcanic rock used as soil improver

B&Q have started to stock a soil improver made from ground volcanic rock. The rock, which is 420 million years old, is quarried in Scotland and contains over 60 essential elements to support plant growth.

Have your say in sweet pea trials

The RHS have asked the public to assist in their assessment of 37 sweet pea cultivars currently undergoing trials at RHS Wisley. Those which reach the required standards will be awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit. RHS Harlow Carr is also holding a sweet pea day on 11th July.


Blooming delicious!

In this lull between the busier gardening periods your thoughts might turn to other outdoor activities, including al fresco eating (weather allowing!). With that in mind we've taken a look at how your garden can help to provide a bounty for your table...but we're not talking fruit and veg.

Edible flowers were very popular in ancient times and have had a real come back in recent years, so we've taken a look at what's good to eat (as well as look at) in the garden:

Centaurea cyanus cultivarAlcea rosea (hollyhocks) - eat the petals only.

Allium schoenoprasum (chives) - flowerheads can be eaten whole.

Calendula officinalis (pot marigolds) - eat the petals only.

Centaurea cyanus, C. scabiosa, C. nigra and C. montana (cornflowers, shown left) - eat the petals only.

Chrysanthemum x grandiflorum (syn. C. x morifolium) (florists' chrysanthemums) - eat the petals only.

Cucurbita pepo (courgettes/zucchini) - flowerheads can be eaten whole (but remove the stamen or style/stigma).

Dianthus (pinks and carnations) - eat the petals only.

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) - eat the petals only.

Helianthus anuus (sunflowers) - the flowerbuds can be eaten whole.

Mentha (mint) - flowerheads can be eaten whole.

Nepeta cataria (catmint) - flowerheads can be eaten whole.

Rosa (roses) - eat the petals only.

Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) - flowerheads can be eaten whole.

Sambucus nigra (elder) - flowerheads can be eaten whole.

Tropaeolum majus (nasturtiums) - flowerheads can be eaten whole, including the flower buds.

Viola odorata (violets) - flowerheads can be eaten whole.

Read our blog for more ideas and serving suggestions.

Always ensure you wash flowers thoroughly in cold water before using them in food, particularly if you have animals (eg foxes, dogs or cats) visiting your garden.
Use flowers as freshly as possible as they rarely keep well.
Don't use flowers which have been sprayed with pesticides or fertilisers (unless they are suitable for use on food produce).
Consume edible flowers in moderation.
Please remember: not all flowers are edible. Make sure you check that you know what the flower is and whether it is edible before you eat it, and ensure that children also understand that they should only eat parts of plants which a responsible adult has told them they can.


What's on this month

In the run up to the Olympics why not give yourself a bit of exercise by going out and about at these July events:

  • 3rd to 8th July - Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, London.
  • 7th & 8th July - Annual Garden Weekend, Parham House & Gardens, nr Pulborough, West Sussex.
  • 7th & 8th July - Glandwr NGS Open Garden, Glandwr, Llandysul, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
  • 9th July - In Praise Of Trees Talk, Sheffield Botanical Gardens, Sheffield.
  • 14th July - Alpine Garden Society National Show & Plant Sale, Tewkesbury School, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
  • 14th & 15th July - Anderby Open Gardens & Scarecrow Weekend, Anderby, Lincolnshire.
  • 14th & 15th July - Edible Gardening Seasonal Advice, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.
  • 21st & 22nd July - Cold Ashby Open Gardens - Cold Ashby, nr Northampton, Northamptonshire.
  • 22nd July - South Staffs Bonsai Show, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Edgbaston, Birmingham.
  • 18th to 22nd July - RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire.
  • 26th July - Salvias For Gardeners Talk, Great Dixter House & Gardens, Rye, East Sussex.
  • 29th July - RSPB Family Day, University of Leicester Botanic Garden, Oadby, Leicestershire.