Taking care of June blooms
Longer days and warmer weather mean that we are coming into the really busy time in the flower garden. There is a multitude of tasks and sometimes it can seem as though the gardener is conducting a symphony with the whole garden needing a guiding hand as it approaches the summer climax.
It is easy for weeds to get out of control now. As the farmers say, ‘Weed when you don’t need to and you won’t have weeds’. Don’t let perennial weeds get out of hand and hoe or hand pick them now while they are small. Hans Weiland gave helpful and comprehensive advice on natural weed control in his column recently (available on www.mayonews.ie). See also Chris Brown’s tips on Page 31.
Even though we have had a few showers lately, the soil can dry out quickly in a drying wind. It’s important to keep an eye on plants recently planted out and continue to water until they are established. When you are planting out bedding make sure to water the trays an hour beforehand and also when they are planted.
Plants for free
It is easy to multiply plants using a range of methods and very satisfying to increase the garden flower stock with little effort and only the cost of compost:
Pansies and mimulas form seed heads which burst open when ripe, so pick them on a dry day when they are brown/black and put into a paper bag to hang up in a dry room or spread on tissue to air.
Then put into a plastic bag and label. The same method can be used with aquilegias, poppies, lupins and a whole range of flowers and it's good fun to experiment. Any that are labelled F1 don’t set good seed, as they are hybrids and won't breed true so check that out. Pick Hellebore seeds when they are black but still soft before they have formed a hard seed coat and sow them in seed trays immediately – they will germinate in a few days.
Take 7-10cm cuttings of the growing tips of hardy fuchsias, penstemons, geraniums, rosemary, lavender, helianthemums and other tender perennials. Make a clean cut using a sharp clean knife, remove the lower leaves, dip into hormone rooting powder and plant around the edge of a 10cm pot containing a 50/50 mix of compost and vermiculite, water, cover with small gravel and either place in a cold frame or place two sticks in the pot and enclose in a plastic bag until you see roots emerging from the bottom of the pot.
Side shoots of dianthus and carnations can be treated similarly.
Garden tasks for June
When they have finished flowering, cut back spring flowering plants such as aubrietia and the flowering stems of euphorbia.
Stake herbaceous perennials such as lupins, hollyhocks, and delphiniums using twigs from hedge pruning or purpose bought stakes
Pinch out the tips of fuchsias and bergamot to encourage more bushy growth
Trim winter flowering heathers with shears to tidy them.
Buy biennial flower seeds to sow next month to ensure that next year's display is even better than this. (Biennial flowers are planted this year and flower next year). Propagating biennials will be covered in next month's article.
Patsy O'Sullivan is a founding member of Ballinrobe Garden Club, which meets on the first Tuesday of the month in Gannon’s Hotel at 7.30pm. At the next meeting (June 1), Belinda Viagas will give a talk on growing and using herbs and other plants for cooking and healthy living. This is the club’s last meeting until September, but field trips to gardens will take place during the summer.
All interested gardeners – beginners and experienced – are welcome.