Hi guys, it’s Michael Perry here, and whether you’re loving it or hating it, we can’t say we aren’t having a good summer! Temperatures in the high 20’s, hardly a cloud in the sky, and warm evenings that make you feel like you’re on holiday…
Anyone that was planning a ‘staycation’ this summer has officially lucked out!
I’ve been off-screen for a few weeks, as gardening shows tend to slow at this time of year, however I’m back on Saturday 4th August, so I can’t wait to see you! During my time away from the studio, I always have plenty of freelance work to keep me busy. Luckily, the majority of this work is digital, so I can do it from anywhere, hence my working holiday in Spain.
Myself and my partner both work remotely at times and rather than having a full holiday during the first week of our holiday, we choose to keep working a little. However, it was in some lovely locations! Mornings by the pool with a MacBook, fuelled by iced coffee, and then a lovely afternoon of sightseeing.
We also had a rather wonderful hot air balloon ride. Have you ever been? We cruised over the town of Monserrat, and finished at the monastery, where I particularly enjoyed the garden (with it’s super tall and skinny juniper trees and lovely red Geraniums)… always a busman’s holiday, hey!
The Heat Is On
Let’s talk about the heat, though, and how it may affect your garden. I bet you’ve been running up and down with watering cans trying to keep it happy, especially if you’re growing a few crops here and there.
Remember not to water during the heat of the day – not only will you risk fainting yourself, but the plants won’t really like it either. It can sometimes scorch them. Plus, it’s a waste of time, as it will evaporate so quickly. It’s better to water in the morning or the evening.
Be careful if your area has a hosepipe ban too. You may want to get into the practice of using waste water, such as old sink water or bath water. The small traces of soap won’t harm your plants. If you are using a hose, then try to avoid using the sprinkler attachment; it’s far better to use the nozzle attachment, so you can direct the water right where it needs to be, rather than wasting it.
Containers are the worst for keeping happy in the summer, though, aren’t they? Rainfall (when it comes) simply doesn’t penetrate the foliage canopy of a patio pot, so water them directly, early or late in the day, and think ahead next year by mixing in water retaining crystals. They act as small sponges in your compost, holding onto water. A saucer beneath your pots can also be a good idea, so you can give a reservoir of water for your plants to use whenever they need it.
Plants and Holidays
If you are going on holiday, think about your houseplants. Either get a neighbour in to give them a tinkling, or think about setting them up in the bath, or on the draining board with a wet towel beneath them, making sure the other end is in the sink of water. It acts as a capillary matting of sorts!
Your houseplants will also appreciate a slightly cooler spot over the summer months too, as your inside areas may be getting to be like a sauna! Outdoors, your border plants should hopefully look after themselves, however, your container plants may need that kind neighbour to water them, or a quick and easy timer irrigation kit set-up.
Your Dead Lawn
With Britain set for one of the driest summers ever, you may be looking out of your window at a dead lawn… it’s enough to make you cry! However, do not panic. Your lawn is unlikely to be dead – in fact, it has actually gone into survival mode.
Grass is one of the most resilient plants on earth, and during drought periods, it often stops sending supplies to the leaves, in order to protect itself. As lawns grow from the base of the plant, not the tips, they actually WILL grow back.
Experts are divided over whether you should water your lawn or not. To be honest, watering will actually make it less drought tolerant and it’s highly unlikely you can give it enough to get it green… If you do really insist though, you need to be wetting it to a depth of about 10cm, to encourage deep rooting. If you want to cut it too, you can do this, but set the blade high and leave the clippings on the surface to help with protecting that turf.
We may well experience a warmer summer next year too, so why not get yourself prepared with some drought tolerant plants? Some of the toughest, most resilient summer plants include Osteospermum, Hemerocallis and Buddleja. Their watering needs are low and they will give you the freedom to go on holiday and forget about them! Indoors, cactus and succulents are a good choice, as they store their own water, meaning you need to give them less!
Think about shade in the border too. By planting some lager shrubs, you can help to shade your border plants (and yourself, if you’re a keen sunbather!)
Most importantly, you must keep cool in the garden. No garden job is so important that you need to sweat it out in the heat of the day. Go easy on yourself and save that deadheading for the warmer evenings, when you can stroll around with a glass of something lovely in hand too!
Happy Gardening, guys, and see you soon!