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Summer gardening

Summer is a time to enjoy flowers and vegetables but also to look ahead.

I love summer in the garden, pottering around, deadheading roses and dahlias, watering the vegetable beds and pulling out persistent weeds.

As I go around, I like to think of what can go in the spaces when the lettuces are finished, the last courgettes have blown up into marrows and the annual flowers collapse exhausted from showing off so colourfully.

Look at seed packets and on many, it is recommended that the contents be sown in spring or autumn.

Late summer and autumn sowing can ensure bright flower colour next spring or summer. It also gives an early start with some vegetables, notably broad beans and cabbages, especially the old stalwart ‘Flower of Spring’.

If you save seeds of anemone, pulsatilla, allium, calendula, delphinium, sweet William, lupin and other hardy flowering plants, they can be sown as the days begin to shorten. Pansies, primulas and red hot pokers (Kniphofia) can be sown then, too, to produce strong plants for planting out as soon as the ground can be worked in spring.

Hyacinth bulbs

A little more TLC over winter may be needed, so if you have a greenhouse, put it to use when the tomatoes are finished: keep trays of seedlings inside. Plants to be potted up can get an extra-early start in the greenhouse and brought out as the weather improves.

Spring-flowering bulbs start appearing in garden centres from about February. Don’t delay buying, as some varieties invariably sell out quickly.


If bulbs are to be grown in containers, get them potted up as soon as possible after purchasing. Use deep pots for tulips and daffodils, attractive smaller containers for snowdrops, hyacinths and crocuses.

Fill pots with commercial mix you have enhanced with blood and bone or sheep pellets. Place the bulbs in position, cover with mix to roughly the depth of the bulbs and water well.

Red hot pokers

Put the containers in a cold place and move them to their display spot only when the first hint of colour is seen. Too much heat when flowers are forming will see the buds shrivel away without blooming.

Enjoy summer but do look ahead.