Like politics, a week or two in the garden is a long time, especially during the holiday season when our attention is elsewhere.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by an overgrown and untidy garden.
The good news is that getting it back into shape is not as daunting as it seems. Lawn care Mowing the lawn and trimming the edges will immediately neaten the garden. If the lawn is a bit long, don’t put the lawn mower on the lowest level but reduce the height gradually over two or three weeks.
This prevents it going white and then brown. In very hot weather, the lawn benefits from being left a bit longer; it uses less water because the roots are shaded. Grass that is yellow or light green can be fertilised and watered afterwards.
Fill in the gaps
Replace spring-planted annuals that are past their best with summer annuals like marigolds, salvia, zinnias, angelonia and vinca.
All of them thrive in the heat and will keep on going until winter.
- Zinnia Zahara double yellow harks back to the traditional, large, double zinnia flower. Plants, however, are tidier than the older varieties and more compact (40 to 50cm high and wide).
They grow in full sun, the leaves are more resistant to mildew and they are heat tolerant.
Ideal bedding plants for mixed borders.
- Salvia Black and Bloom is a shrubby perennial salvia that grows 1.2m high and wide, handles the heat, humidity and drought. The large flowers with black stems produce a pronounced black/blue effect and they attract nectar lovers. Deadheading is not necessary although pinching off spent blooms produces a bushier plant. Grow it in full sun, in compost-enriched soil that drains well. Once established, it is water wise and will flower until the first frost. It comes back into flower in spring.
- For shady areas, there is Begonia Big Green Leaf Pink. It is a showy landscape begonia that grows into a substantial plant, 60cm high and 50cm wide, with upright growth, glossy leaves and flowers that fall off cleanly when old. This interspecies hybrid tolerates full sun as well as partial shade. It does best in moist soil that drains well and needs fertilising once a month.
Spread the food around
By January, most nutrients will have been leeched out by the rain or used up by the plants. Give perennials, shrubs and trees a granular fertiliser like 5:1:5 or 8:1:5 or Vigorosa and annuals a liquid feed such as Nitrosol, Multifeed or Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger.
Revive the Roses
If the roses suffered from lack of water and are showing the effects of it, they will quickly recover with a good, deep watering.
Mottled yellow leaves could indicate an infestation of red spider mite that becomes active during drought stress. Spray immediately with Milbeknock and repeat one week later. Water deeply as well.
On the other hand, where there was good rainfall and the water stayed on the leaves, the result might be black spot. Spraying with Chronos, which has a curative action, can help. Christmas beetles are also active and a sure sign is holes chomped out of the leaves.
Spray in the early evening with Garden Ripcord or Plant Care.