Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 38 - July 2014
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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
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.
  • 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.
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!
Plant of the monthClematis x durandii

Clematis x durandii flowers from June to September with deep purple/blue flowers. After flowering it bears decorative 'swirling' seedheads. It will climb up to 2.5m high. In late winter or early spring cut the stems down to 15-30cm tall. Find out more...

Problem of the monthLeaf miner

Leaf miners infest a wide range of plants, burrowing into the leaf tissue and resulting in the eponymous 'mines' appearing. They don't tend to do too much damage, though you can remove affected leaves or use chemical controls. In some situations biological controls may be available. Find out more...

In the news

Fears for future of box

Last year's wet autumn weather, and the cold, rainy spell we experienced in May, has made box plants more susceptible to box blight. The RHS has seen a sharp increase in queries relating to this fungal disease.

Box plants are also at risk from the box tree caterpillar. The pest was first introduced to the UK in 2005 and this year there has been an increase in sightings, with 8 infestations reported so far, all in the east London/Buckinghamshire area.

RHS plans £100m investment

Following several years of growing membership and garden visitor numbers, the RHS is planning to spend £100m on a 10 year investment programme.

This will include creating two new inner city gardens (in the Midlands and North West), developing a fifth public garden, creating a science 'hub' at Wisley, introducing a learning centre at Hyde Hall and increasing the number of apprenticeships at their four existing gardens from 8 to 22.

Dig The City garden designs selected

16 garden designs have been selected for Manchester's Dig The City festival this August.

The gardens, to be displayed around the city centre from the 2nd to 10th August, will feature hot tubs, floral bus stops and edible tunnels.

The designs will be judged by TV gardener Rachel de Thame and the National Trust's city gardener Sean Harkin.


Off with its head!

Deadheading can be one of the more satisfying jobs in the garden. Five minutes of plucking away can turn a scruffy flower bed into a neat and tidy display.

Deadheading a  roseBut tidiness is not the only reason for deadheading. Like animals, a plant's primary function is to reproduce, ie produce seeds. By removing spent flowers before the seeds can form, you encourage the plant to produce more flowers in order to get that all important seed.

In the case of deadheading flowering shrubs you allow the plant to put its energy into growth, rather than into producing seeds, which can give you a better display the following year.

You should start to deadhead flowers as soon as the first flush is over and the flowers start to fade. At the peak of the flowering season you should aim to do a round of deadheading at least once a week.

When removing the spent flowers, the best way is to take them down to a joint (or the base of the plant if the flowers grow from there). This prevents you having lots of 'headless' stems sticking up, which is unsightly and can provide an ideal spot for diseases as they die back.

Flowering bulbs (eg tulips) should be deadheaded just below the developing seed pod, rather than removing the stem, so that the stem can continue to photosynthesise and produce food for the bulb.

Some plants can be easily deadheaded by nipping the flower head off between your thumb and forefinger. However, those with sturdier stems, such as roses, are best done with secateurs.

Other plants, such as fuchsias, will deadhead themselves, so they're a good solution for hard to reach growing situations, such as hanging baskets.

Towards the end of the flowering season you should consider whether the plant has attractive, or wildlife beneficial, hips or seedheads. If they do, stop deadheading to allow these features to develop.


What's on this month

This is the great British summer - either too hot or too wet to garden! So why not take a look at someone else's efforts instead:

  • 2nd & 9th July - National Garden Scheme Garden Tour, The Trentham Estate, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
  • 8th to 13th July - RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey.
  • 11th to 13th July - Kent County Show, Kent Showground, Detling, Maidstone, Kent.
  • 12th & 13th July - Kirby Lonsdale Open Gardens, Kirby Lonsdale, Cumbria.
  • 12th & 13th July - Summer Craft and Garden Fair, Somerley House, Ringwood, Hampshire.
  • 18th to 20th July - Stratford-upon-Avon Home and Garden Show, Alscot Park, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.
  • 23rd July - Garden Tour, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, London.
  • 23rd to 27th July - RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire.
  • 26th & 27th July - Fuchsia Festival, Capel Manor Gardens, Enfield, Middlesex.
  • 26th & 27th July - The Lost Gardens of RBGE, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh.
  • 26th & 27th July - Marks Hall Country and Flower Show, Marks Hall, Coggeshall, Essex.