Gardens: Make the most of summer time

Picture: Esme Allen

Picture: Esme Allen

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Rather than throw out unwanted containers, why not put them to good use? If your garden has poor soil, you can sow some annuals in the containers and place them in the soil.

Night-scented stock (Matthiola bicornis) is delightfully fragrant on summer evenings and pots of godetia are superb for filling gaps in the border.

Now is a good time to clean up tulips that have been lifted, dried and stored in a cool light place, with the hope of getting a second year of flower from them. While it is best to plant daffodils and other spring bulbs from late August, you can leave planting tulips until as late as November.

It’s barbecue season, so think of the lawn. If using disposable barbecues, avoid placing them directly on the grass. The intense heat dissipates down and kills it off, leaving a brown reminder of a grilled sausage or burger.

If houseplants are looking jaded, take the opportunity to pot and place them outside in a sheltered spot where they can appreciate better sunlight levels. It will rejuvenate them and growth should improve.

Conversely, if you are going on holiday, water your house plants and move them to the coolest room of your property. If you will be away for a long time it is a good idea to ask a neighbour to pop in and give them another watering. Similarly, hanging baskets need to be fed and watered regularly.

If you have some protected growing space, why not try growing your own vegetables? Eating foods in season is fun as well as helping to cut down on food miles, trips to the supermarket and wastage. Peppers and aubergines should be coming on well by now.

A natural way to help deter pests is to put out a few pots of French marigolds. A large container of water, an ideal place to grow a watercress plant, will help keep up the humidity and deter red spiders, as well as help fruit to set. Once you harvest your vegetables, freeze as much as you can to help see you through the winter months.