Summer pruning in a flowering garden

Summer pruning in a flowering garden
Green Fingers


June, your garden is starting to peak. Beds and borders are full of colour and life. All the work you put into weeding and hoeing is now paying off. As shrubs and perennials fill out, there will be less and less weeding to do. Annual weeds are no longer a major problem as the light getting to ground level has been blocked out. There will still be perennial weeds to deal with.

The hardest one to beat is convolvulus (bindweed). This is a climbing plant with a distinctive trumpet-shaped white flower. It will climb and weave its way all through your borders, if you don’t stop it. For people who don’t use chemicals, the two most common ways to deal with it are to either pour boiling water on it every time it appears or to let it grow to 30cm/one foot above ground level and cut it off. With both of these methods you will need great patience and persistence or it will beat you. If you use these chemicals, you will need one that contains glyphosate. Place a bamboo core in the ground and train the bindweed up it. When it reaches 60cm/two foot, remove with care and lay the bindweed on the ground. Be careful not to let the spray touch any other plant as it will kill what it touches.

Provided it is six weeks since they finished flowering, cut back daffodils that are naturalised in lawns. Cut back early flowering perennials that have gone over, for example, oriental poppies. Cut the faded flower stems from Hellebores to tidy them up. If you have Clematis montana that needs cutting back now is the time.

Clip privet and other fast-growing hedges. Remove any suckers from the roofstock of roses, these will be the long straight stems that look different from the rest. Rip them off, downwards, rather than cutting. Keep watering anything that it is newly planted. Water newly planted lawns be they seeded or turf. Don’t water established lawns, it just wastes water, they will survive and come back.

Now that the threat of frost has passed, it’s time to put out baskets, window boxes and planters full of summer bedding annuals. If you care for them, they will flower from now till first frost. Caring for them means watering, feeding and deadheading. If it’s not warm, overwatering can be as much of a problem as no water. Check every day. Put your finger into the compost, if it’s dry, water it. On warm days, hanging baskets will need watering every day as wind also dries them. Liquid feed weekly as per instructions on the feed. Deadheading depends on the type of plant you have, but check daily, if possible. Don’t just remove the flower head, rip off the stem back to a joint.