Professional gardener - Fill gaps in borders

Flower beds & borders This month should see many of them full of colour and looking good. If gaps have opened in beds and borders, then consider filling them by adding bedding or plunge planting pots of appropriate varieties. Sow perennials and biennials such as lupins, delphiniums, hollyhocks and foxgloves. Sowings can also be made outdoors of alstroemeria, achillea, arabis, Canterbury bells, coreopsis, erigeron, myosotis and sweet williams.

Bulbs Lift and divide any spring-flowering bulbs that look as though they are overcrowded.

Lawns & grass paths If it is hot and dry, consider raising the height of cut if mowing is necessary.

Shrubs Remove fading blooms from shrubs such as rhododendrons and lilacs to encourage further bud formation. Where lilacs have become leggy and overgrown, consider cutting right back to 18in. Prune shrubs that have finished flowering, notably philadelphus and weigela. De-sucker budded roses. Continue to train and tie in new growth on climbers and ramblers.

Kitchen garden Make notes on the performance of salad, vegetable, fruit and flower varieties in respect of weather conditions. Harvest produce as and when ready, thin out seedlings and make successional sowings of salad and vegetables. Stake peas sown last month. Plant outdoor tomatoes, marrows and runner beans. Pinch broad beans. Prepare ground and start planting winter greens. Finish training outdoor peaches and nectarines. Train outdoor vines, pinching out the tips of secondary laterals when at one-leaf stage. Keep an eye open for pests and diseases. As temperatures rise and day length extends, two-spotted spider mites can be problematic in strawberries.

Conservatory & greenhouse Apply shading and ensure that ventilation is working correctly. Train and feed melons.

Water features & hygiene Water features can be a source of infections such as botulism. Working with water all morning does not mean your hands are clean. You may have been doing so for years, but eating snacks and lunch with dirty hands is not good. Proper facilities must be provided for staff to wash their hands — and these facilities should be used. Hot and cold running water, pump-action soap dispenser and a hygienic means of drying are needed. Paper towels will do but there should be a staff rota for checking and cleaning the facilities so that the washing area itself does not present a hazard.


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