Sept 09 – ‘Don’t Despair – Summer’s Not Over Yet’
                                Don’t Despair - Summer’s Not Over Yet
WITH more than 35 years combined experience, Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith are seasoned garden designers who live in Bishop’s Stortford. They have won three consecutive gold medals at Chelsea Flower Show and are regular guest experts on the BBC’s Three Counties Radio, sharing their top tips and gardening advice.

WELL it’s August but so much for the long hot summer that we were promised. Nonetheless, the recent rain together with the warm temperatures, have been great for rejuvenating the garden, although the hail we had a few Fridays ago did play havoc with a lot of our large leaved perennials, shredding many of their leaves. The lawns which were starting to look a bit yellow and off colour, have now greened up and the shrubs and perennials which were looking a bit tired have since perked up. With a bit off help we can keep our gardens looking great well in to autumn and beyond. You never know we might get one of those elusive Indian summers and you’ll still want your garden looking great for those late season barbeques! Here are a few tips.
Rejuvenate your hardy geraniums by cutting them right back to where the new shoots are emerging. In a few weeks they will green up again and you’ll get another flush of flowers. This will look a lot better than brown flower stems and old leaves.Don’t forget to keep deadheading your flowers – roses, penstemons, valerian, buddleia and all your bedding plants. All a plant wants to do in life is flower and set seed, so if you cut off the flower you fool the plant in to thinking that it hasn’t reproduced and so it produces more flowers to compensate.
It is still important to keep feeding your plants especially those in pots and hanging baskets such as bedding plants and tomatoes to encourage flowering and continued fruiting. We always recommend a fortnightly fix of liquid tomato feed (high in potash) to keep them happy.
Don’t let your containers dry out too much between waterings as this can weaken the plants and can cause problems with plants such as tomatoes. While we are on the subject of watering, try not to let Rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias dry out as this time of year either. At the moment they are forming their buds for next year so it is important to keep them moist and happy to ensure beautiful blooms in the spring.
If you are thinking of planting spring bulbs, now is a good time to identify gaps in your borders with sticks or bamboo canes. This way next year the bulbs will come up nicely spaced and when your perennials emerge their new leaves will hide the decaying foliage of your spring bulbs as they die down.Stay vigilant against weeds, pests and diseases. The little blighters are still around. The recent damp and humid weather will certainly encourage mildews, blight and the number one pest in the garden – slugs. Instead of using conventional slug pellets that can be bad for the environment and wildlife, try the new organic slug pellets based on ‘ferric phosphate’. They may be are a bit slower to get going but they are surprisingly effective.
The most important thing this time of year is to sit back with a glass of wine or a coffee and enjoy your garden – after all that’s why we do it. 

Although the long term forecast does look changeable at the moment there will still be plenty of good days to come when we can relax and unwind and plan what we want to do next in the garden. Summer’s not over yet!