Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 50 - July 2015
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 monthViola 'Huntercombe Purple'

The pretty Viola 'Huntercombe Purple' is a low growing, evergreen, herbaceous perennial which flowers from late spring throughout summer. It grows to a maximum 15cm tall and 30cm wide, forming a compact clump of flowers. It's great as edging for beds or borders and also looks good in rock gardens or alpine displays. Deadhead regularly for a long lasting display and trim back in the autumn to keep the foliage compact. Find out more...

Problem of the monthSycamore gall mite

The sycamore gall mite causes small red lumps ("galls") to appear on the upper surface of sycamore leaves, making it look as if the leaf has a rash. It can also affect other Acer species. The tiny mites feed on the leaf tissue causing surrounding tissue to enlarge, creating a gall. They lay their eggs in the galls and several generations can be born this way each year. The mites and galls don't harm the plant and usually the best tactic is to do nothing or just remove and destroy affected leaves. Find out more...

In the news

£34m in lottery funds for green spaces

Funding has been announced for 16 historic parks and cemeteries in the UK. £34m will be granted from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund to sites including Peel Park (Salford), Northwood Cemetery (the Isle of Wight) and Stornoway Castle (Outer Hebrides). This brings the total National Lottery funding of parks to £770m since 1996.

Tree of the Year nominations open

Public nominations for the Woodland Trust's Tree of the Year competition are open until the 12th July. The annual competition seeks the country's favourite trees in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The nominations will be shortlisted and a public vote will decide the winners later in the year.

English landscape earns £20bn a year

A report by England's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnerships and the National Parks Authorities has shown that the English landscape adds £20bn to the economy each year, approximately the same as the city of Birmingham. Over two-thirds of people live within half an hour of a National Park or AONB and annual visitors total 260 million. The income is derived from visitor spending (over £6bn), the thousands of jobs this creates and over 85,000 related businesses.


A bit of botany – understanding plant stems

Understanding the different parts of a plant’s stem can make jobs like pruning and taking stem cuttings more intuitive and, therefore, easier to do.

This is the basic structure of a stem:

Parts of a plant stem

These are some of the key parts and why they’re important:


These are areas of growth, containing lots of ‘meristematic’ cells, which means that they are cells which actively divide to create lots of new cells. These cells produce buds, side shoots, leaves and flowers. Before these new structures grow, you can often identify a node by a slight swelling in that area. It’s important to recognise nodes because if you are taking a stem cutting from a hard to propagate plant, taking the cutting just below a node will mean that there’s a better chance of the cutting rooting, because there will be plenty of meristematic cells congregating there, ready to start growing the new roots.


This is the section of stem between two nodes, ie it doesn’t have any growth areas in it. This ‘internodal area’ is there to give the stem length and, therefore, the plant more height. Cuttings can also be taken from internodal areas, which means that more cuttings can be taken from each stem, however they are harder to root than nodal cuttings.

Apical bud

This type of bud is found at the tip of a stem (unlike axillary buds which appear along the stem) and is another area which contains a log of meristematic, or growth, cells. The apical bud also contains a build up of the hormone ‘auxin’, which controls growth. Because of the increased levels of auxin, the growth is focussed on the stem tip, often meaning that buds further down the stem remain dormant. When pinching out young plants, or pruning the tips off established plants, you are removing the apical bud. This causes the buds further down the stem to grow and results in a bushier plant. Equally if you want a tall, single stemmed tree then you mustn’t cut off the apical bud as it will stop further growth from that point.

Find out more about the other parts of a stem.


What's on this month

If you can manage outside without wilting (or being watered by a sudden downpour) then here are some garden events to enjoy this month:

  • 4th & 5th July - Ashby de la Zouch Open Gardens, various locations around Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire.
  • 11th & 12th July - Annual Garden Weekend, Parham House and Gardens, Pulborough, West Sussex.
  • 17th to 19th July - National Flower Show, Hylands House and Estate, Chelmsford, Essex.
  • 17th to 19th July - Stratford-upon-Avon Home And Garden Show, Recreation Ground, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.
  • 19th July - BBC Gardeners' Question Time Summer Garden Party, National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire.
  • 19th July - Why Garden? Talk By Monty Don, University of Bristol Botanic Garden, Stoke Bishop, Bristol.
  • 22nd to 26th July - RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire.
  • 30th July to 2nd August - Hyde Hall Flower Show, RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Chelmsford, Essex.