3 August - Summer pursuits

Summer holidays - Here at last, the summer is likely to bring families out for day trips. Visitors of the future, make sure the children are catered for and enjoy their day out. That does not necessarily mean an adventure playground. Croquet can be surprisingly entertaining and a treasure hunt, using garden clues along the way, is always fun.

Ponds - Keep an eye on water features during hot sunny weather and top up regularly to ensure that oxygen levels do not become low.

Containers and baskets - If you have used a controlled release fertiliser in planters and hanging baskets, you may now need to apply a supplementary liquid feed.

Bulbs and tubers - It is a good time to plant Madonna lilies; choose a sunny position and cover with just a couple of inches of soil. Make sure you have everything ready for forcing pots of bulbs you want to flower in time for Christmas. Start compiling bulb orders for next year's displays.

Flowers - Keep on top of weeding and deadheading - especially roses and bedding plants. Feed small doses of liquid fertiliser to chrysanthemums. Cut back herbaceous perennials if they collapse and cut back hardy geraniums to encourage more flowers later.

Seed collections - Be ready to collect seed from desirable plants but deadhead those plants where energy is best put into new growth and further flowers at this time of year.

Shrubs - Continue to take semi-ripe shrub cuttings and keep an eye on those cuttings taken previously.

Complete summer pruning of wisteria to ensure bud production for next year's display and tie in growth where required for extension. Gather up any diseased leaves from roses.

Kitchen garden - Ripen onions and shallots grown from January and March sowings, bending the leaves over if they are not dying back. Sow Japanese onions for next year and continue sowing spring cabbage at regular intervals. Make a final sowing of parsley for autumn and winter picking. Now is a good time to take semi-ripe cuttings of shrubby herbs such as rosemary and sage. Check fruit picking ladders for damage, wear and tear and replace if necessary. Inspect strawberry runners pegged down last month and cut plantlets when ready.

Timber - Take advantage of dry spells to apply stains, varnishes and wood preservatives where plants and visitors permit.


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