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What to Plant in Summer

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By Cathi

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Almost every gardener knows the proverb ‘you reap what you sow’ and, whilst this relates to many things in life, it is directly relevant to Haylofters throughout the growing year. It not only works for seeds (the sowing bit) but also for those joyous buff and purple parcels which arrive from us with the much-anticipated bulbs, plugs and pots that you have been excitedly awaiting. Whilst we appreciate that in much of the UK April was untypically cold and dry, then May brought the slightly tardy April showers, here is hoping for some warmth and sunshine in June. With this anticipation and hope in mind we thought you might like to look at our suggestions for early, mid and late Summer planting this year both in the ornamental and the kitchen garden.

 

June (early Summer)

 

If you have not ordered your summer bedding yet, then it is not too late - but do so very soon as these plants will need to catch up and the flowering period may be shortened accordingly. It is always worth remembering that annuals only have one season to grow, bloom and set seed so they are the speedy athletes of the gardening world. June is the best month to plant out bedding as the risk of frost has passed and the plants will settle in quickly and put on rapid growth if kept watered and fed according to their needs. If your bedding plants have already been established, then they will bush out more if you are brave enough to pinch out the tips on the new growth – if you are reticent then try it on some tips and not others so you can compare how the plant benefits. Asters, Begonias, Nemesia, and Calibrachoa are all incredibly popular for almost instant colour now - just search ‘bedding’ on the website for creative ideas – there are literally scores of bedding plants to choose from.

 

Some of our most colourful perennials will also benefit from planting now that the soil has warmed up. Verbena, Echinacea and Hibiscus are a few examples that will greatly appreciate this – particularly if you add some mycorrhizal fungi to the roots in the pot before planting and firming it into the ground. It goes without saying that they will also need watering in to help them establish.

 

If you love tropical plants now is the time to plant out canna either into containers or directly into the soil. Do bear in mind they will need lifting and storing over winter but for now just watch them grow and flourish given moist but well drained soil in a sunny position. These plants look great wherever you choose to put them and if you add a coleus or two, along with other exotics, you will be able to sit back and imagine you are sipping cocktails on foreign shores - even if getting away this year is a little trickier than usual.

 

Remember to regularly plant herbs such as basil, coriander, and parsley to ensure you have a sufficient supply for cooking – they grow extremely well in containers and are handy to have just outside the kitchen (or even on a windowsill). Your tomatoes should also be growing well by now – feed them regularly once the nutrients in the growing medium are spent and remember to pinch out any side shoots on cordon tomatoes to encourage more bountiful crops later in the season.

 

July (mid summer)

 

Things are normally ‘hotting up’ in the garden by July and if you have been diligent then you are hopefully on top of things and can begin to appreciate your efforts. As you would expect, there will still be weeding, deadheading and general tidying to do. Whether you prefer to potter about in a leisurely fashion or go to your garden with gusto there are still some special plants to put into containers or into the ground at this time of year.

 

As in June, you can continue to plant bedding and there is a vast range of annuals which can pep up your outdoor spaces if late Spring flowering plants have now had their moment and you have space to fill. Petunias are one of the most reliable plants for this time of year and they come in a wide spectrum of colours so can co-ordinate with most planting schemes. Whether you need trailing or upright blooms that are big and bold or dainty and delicious check out how many varieties of these we have for you.

 

One of our favourites are pelargoniums – also known as the florist’s geranium – are Mediterranean marvels that add a touch of sunshine to any garden and look sensational planted in a container but equally do an amazing job of filling beds and borders. Hardy geraniums can also be planted at this time of year and are reliable performers given a sunny site with moist but well-drained soil. Osteospernums come into their own now too and are not only attractive to you but to insects as well. A popular and vibrant variety this year is Osteospernum Purple Glow which carries giant daisy blooms of orange and purple from now through to the first frosts. Check out the amazing colour combination in this one – it is undoubtedly a live-wire!

Agapanthus should be flowering now, and you cannot help but love their architectural form with a globe of trumpet shaped blooms in rich blues, crisp whites and more unusual deep purple colours. If you have not got a container of these in your garden – order them now and, with luck, you can anticipate their flowers in 2022. These plants like full sun and well-drained soil – they also like their roots restricted, so a container is an ideal home for them. The deciduous varieties are more frost-hardy than the evergreens but growing them in containers makes winter protection easier to manage when necessary.

 

A vast range of perennials will also be performing at this time of year. Philadelphus, roses, delphiniums, salvias and penstemons all put on a great show in July. Lupins will also be pushing up in the beds and borders with their fantastic flowering towers that are the mainstay of cottage gardens as well more modern planting styles. We have all the colours of the rainbow to choose from and would highly recommend planning some into your garden for next year. They are available now and can either go directly into a well-drained soil in sun or part-shade or you can grow them on in pots ready for next Spring. In the kitchen garden the first tomatoes are ripening and the berries going bonkers - strawberries, raspberries and any number of soft fruits are starting to crop – enjoy them straight from the plant to taste them at their best. Your cucumbers, potatoes and chilli peppers may also be cropping now, and they too are best freshly picked or dug. Finally, remember to start planting vegetables like sprouts, cabbages and leeks ready for next year about now.

 

August (late summer)

 

August is usually the peak of British summertime when many people take their holidays so, if you are staying at home, enjoy the relaxation at home instead. You could even start planning any areas of your garden which need the addition of some Autumn interest, as well as creating a wish list for next Spring’s bulbs prior to ordering. If you are lucky enough to be going away it is important, if you can, to make plans regarding the care of your garden. If a friend, neighbour or relative is kind enough to do any necessary watering then you could help them greatly by locating pots and baskets together for ease of access. If the weather is particularly dry - you know better than anyone how often your plants need water; share this information with whoever is helping. Alternatively plastic trays and shallow tubs of water for container plants to stand in will help them in the short term or, if you are technically minded, there are proprietary water systems that can be programmed according to your garden’s needs.

 

Just a few of the plants worth considering for now are African Marigolds, Salvia, Coleus, Coreopsis and Erysimum – these are all long-flowering and will keep going until the first frosts so provide great colour into the Autumn and representing great value. Other half-hardy annuals for August onwards include rudbeckia, dahlias, verbena and zinnia. Remember though that your dahlias will need lifting and storing over the winter. One of our favourites – Amaranthus Oeschberg – is great for cutting and offers you rich, claret-red flowers which resemble feathers against dark, sensual foliage and has an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS.

 

For those of you looking for more permanent solutions to spaces in the garden some of the perennials which come to the fore now include Autumn flowering ceanothus, phlox, daisy-like helenium, sedums, crocosmia and penstemon. We pride ourselves on having a huge collection of penstemon and have too many favourites to be specific so browse through our pages and you are sure to find one that appeals and fits your current needs.

 

In the kitchen garden you should be harvesting an abundance of fruit and vegetables now – remember to eat them as soon off the plant as possible for optimum flavour and either gift or store any gluts to make the most of all your hard work. Aubergines will be fattening up with the August heat and can be enjoyed at their best now, as will globe artichokes - which are a particular delicacy. Tomatoes and soft fruits will still be cropping so check regularly for ripened fruit and any surplus can be frozen or made into jams and chutneys for the colder Autumn and winter months. Cucumbers, chilli peppers and potatoes will also still be ‘cropping’ and your melons should be ripening in the late summer sun so feast on these now.

 

Summer is such an abundant time of year in the garden. It is an exciting, beautiful and deeply rewarding time of year when we can buzz around outside like the bees and other pollinators that are our frequent visitors. Remember, however, to enjoy those lazy moments too - these are an intrinsic part of appreciating our gardens at a time of year when we can relax outside without the need to wrap up against the cold.

Happy gardening (and relaxing) Haylofters!

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