All the rain is taking toll on our blooms

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Summer should be a time to sit back and relax in the garden, enjoying the outcome of one’s labour carried out earlier in the season.

Days such as that have been few and far between this year and while there has been one benefit of all the rain: no necessity to get the hose out to water beds and borders thanks to Mother Nature doing it all. The exception being hanging baskets where they are sheltered from the rain.

Rainwater is better than tap water but there is a limit to how much plants need and the disadvantage of all the moisture is now beginning to show. Summer bedding plants are continually wet and while some are coping, others are not.

Begonias are not their best in high temperatures and hot, dry weather, preferring cool and moist conditions, and certainly not excessive rainfall which spoils their show. The blooms of the larger-flowered NonStop varieties in particuar are beginning to rot in the wet. Keep dead-heading and remove any heads lying around in an attempt to have as much air as possible around the plants.

Geraniums are similary affected, their blooms comprising clusters of many individual flowers tend to hold the wet and subsequently rot. Flowers buds on rose bushes are also not taking kindly to
all the rain and many will simply fail to reach perfection.

n The subject last week was cutting back certain plants in the rockery, now it is the turn of certain shrubs. Those that flower in the spring and early summer are cut back now, to do so in the autumn when there is a lot of pruning and tidying up done before the winter, would mean no flowers next spring.

Shrubs that come into this group are philadelphus (often termed bride’s blossom), weigela, deutzia, lilac and broom (but not into old wood with this one).

There is another, buddleia alternifolia, not to be confused with b. davidii, the so-called butterfly bush, the former variety having already bloomed with its clusters of small flowers all along arching stems. This buddleia is not nearly as common as its relative that attracts butterflies.