The Sunday Gardener's Blog

 RSS Feed

  1. The weather forecast is offering a reprieve  from the rainy conditions with some warm sunny days, ideal for relaxing in the garden. Heavy rain takes its toll on a garden, battering the flowers and flattening everything. Here are some ideas for the bank holiday weekend and gardening tips for August.

    A clear up will help the garden pick up and encourage perennials to keep blooming. Dead head everything which has spent or weather damages flowers especially Roses, Geraniums, Sweet Peas and other annuals, trimming back Nepeta, Achillea Mollis and other tired looking perennials. Whilst many perennials will not flower again, they will grow new foliage which will be bright and cheerful.

    This would be a good time to feed the garden to keep the flowers going into autumn.

    This weekend I will be pruning the Wisteria, its a bit later than is ideal, but still in time. As a guide below are before and after images and there is additional information about  How to Summer Prune Wisteria and video.


    wisteria before summer pruning


    wisteria after summer prune


    Another result of all the wet and windy weather is that some plants have been flattered and suffered damage.

    Don't compost prunings they make great free natural looking plant stakes and are often the perfect shape for propping up plants. 

    Re stake plants using this years prunings. Although many of the perennials look a bit battered, we have still some summer to go and September is often mild and warm, so plenty of flowering still to come.


    Plant-stakes-for-free 310


    tired bedding plants


    A lot of rain and windy weather batters hanging baskets and annuals. The basket on the left was looking lovely last week!

    It maybe possible to salvage the basket by deadheading extensively, removing everything which has flowered or been damaged by the rain and then feeding. However, because bedding plants tend to be less robust and are getting towards the end of their flowering season, some bbaskets will be too far gone and will only limp along. In which case consider replacing them.



    Great Autumn offers from Crocus with a selection of winter Viola and Pansey for delivery w/c 2nd Sept 

    Illustrated below left is Pansy Coastal sunrise mix and right is Viola Sorbet Yellow which are just some of the Panseys on offer and at a great price of £19.99 for 40+ 20 free for a stunning autumn and winter display.

    Click here for more information.



    Pansy Coastal Sunrise Mixed


    Viola Sorbet yellow Blue Jump up




    Dry weather also gives an oppotunity to lift up Onions and Garlic to dry ready for storage.

    To be on the safe side after a couple of days on the ground drying out I usually bring into the greenhouse to rest on the slats for a few days. If you have no greenhouse you can store in a string net in a dry place such as a warm garden shed or conservatory. 

     Info growing and storing onions and garlic





    Finally, this is a good time to take stock of the garden, what worked and what didn't look as good as you hoped. Some perennials are short lived and may need replacing. Most of my garden is herbaceous and so if I leave it to the spring to consider what changes to make there will be little or nothing to see . Photos now of the garden are really useful to mull over in the winter and work out changes for next year.



  2. seedhead- viola seeds


    How To Save Seed

    Autumn is the best time for saving seed.  Some plants, especially annuls start shedding seed quite early in the yar around August and seed is evident on plants throughout autumn.

    The basic method of saving seed is to look for a ripe seed pod and cut it from the plant bringing inside in the warm to dry. Whilst some seeds have very specific germination requirements, there are also many seeds which are easy to save and germinate, and make a saving on the cost of seed the following year. This is particularly so if you are successively sowing, such as Rocket, even though seed is relatively cheap to buy, several packets still add up and helpfully Rocket is one of the easiest seeds to save. 

    At the end of the season leave a few stems of peas and beans for the pods to form and dry out. If the weather is wet or frost threatens, cut down the stem and bring indoors to dry. It is most important that seed is dry when stored as damp seed will quickly go moldy and be unusable. That said I did leave a bunch of rocket I had picked in the greenhouse over winter, and shaking out the seed in the spring it was good to use. Once dry the seed can be stored but it is best to sort the chaff out and store just the clean seed. 


    Gathering and saving Tomatoes seeds is different.  To save tomato seed you need to pick a ripe fruit, scoop out pulp with the seeds and put in jar of water. Swill it around for couple of day and the seed will separate from the pulp and then you can fish the seed out and dry for storage. Many tomatoes plants sold are F1 hybrids and these are not suitable for seed saving.


    Easy Seeds to Save and Grow

    Rocket is great; other easy seeds to save and germinate are Lettuce, Tomatoes, all of the Pea and Bean family, many annuals such as Cornflowers, Nasturtium, Poppy Seeds, Morning Glory, Marigold, Calendula,  Nigella, and Sweet Peas.

    How to Clean and Store Seed 

    Cleaning seed is a perfect job for a winter afternoon. It's not a job to be hurried, and for the smaller seeds, tweezers are the only way to separate seed from chaff and dirt. 

    These seeds pods in the images below have been drying out in a warm, airy place for weeks until I finally got round to sorting them out.  It is important the seed is really dry before you store it. The seeds in the image left, Nigella seeds are dark brown almost black but when the seed was ripe it was green. As it dries, it has darkened and you can feel that the seed is hard and dry.

    Each seed pod needs to be opened and then the seeds removed, which is easy if it is broad beans or peas which are large seeds which come away in your hand. Smaller seeds, such as Nigella and Rocket are tiny and tweezers are really good for scraping out the pod into a seed packet. In the image on the right the assorted wild flower seeds are on the left side of the image and the husks and seed pods on the right. The seed needs to be cleaned of  pod or plant bits before storage. I keep it in the fridge over winter as the ideal environment is cool and dark.

    Unless you have a lot of time and plants, saving seed isn't going to replace buying seed in the spring and it's not ideal for all plants, but it is interesting to grow from saved seeds and it saves some money. 

    Calendula seed prepared-seed
  3. Many gardens have areas where we struggle to grow shrubs and plants because of difficult growing conditions. It may be because the area is exposed, or predominately shady, too wet or too dry. In this blog written for Thompson and Morgan,…/ I look at tough plants for tough places. There are lots of ideas for tough plants suitable for those tricky garden areas. A bonus is that all the plants and shrubs mentioned are easy to grow, so green fingers, not required.


    Tough plants for damp shade Hosta


    Tough plants for exposed areas grasses and Achillea
    Tough plants for conservatories Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’ is ideal for poor soil and dry conditions


  4. There is so much to enjoy in the garden in June when all is still fresh and beginning to bloom. What is in flower in June still depends in part on the prevailing weather in the different parts of the country. This year we enjoyed a very warm spring, which set everything in the garden growing at a gallop, which since been slowed down by the cooler, unsettled weather during late May and June. Still the garden is looking very lovely.




    Peony are looking good at this time of year and whilst the flowers are relatively short lived, they are very beautiful and blousy. By late in June we may think that Peony time is over but the different varieties of Peony will flower over quite a long period and there are some later flowering varieties, such as illustrated P.'Bowl of Beauty'. Different types of Peony will flower from May to June, so you can have successive flowering.
    allium with butterfly 310

    June is definitely Allium time, they make a great statement in the border with their tall large flowers, some like fluffy pom poms others architectural and spiky.

    There are so many to chose from and a good number are illustrated at How to Grow Alliums. There is a gallery of images to help you chose the right Allium for your garden together with planting and growing advice. That said, however, Allium are a fairly self sufficient type of plant not requiring a great deal of attention

    Clematis crystal fountain

    This is Clematis ' Crystal fountain' and I  love these patio style Clematis . 

    This is a compact variety, less rampant than many clematis and so easier to grow, maintain and prune.

    There is also a chance it will repeat flower, especially if a good good summer weather wise, if it is deadheaded during this first flowering. Fingers crossed but it is making a fabulous showing now.


    Rosa Rugosa starts to flower in June and will flower for at least a month or so. It is a tough rose, will still flower if neglected and is much loved by bees.

    It will produce lovely hips later on in the year and is tolerant of most conditions including salt leaded winds making it ideal for a sea side garden.

    yellow flag iris

    There are lots of different types of Iris, about 300 species in the genus with different types of flowers, and with beards, or not beards ; this is the semi wild variety the Yellow flag Irish latin name Iris pseudacorus. 

    It is a woodland plant which likes damp areas and streamsides. It flowers best in the sun but will tolerate dappled shade. It makes a lovely addition to a wild area, which is where I grow it or alongside a pond.


     Tall graceful stems with the delicate flowers of mauve and white illustrated is Thalictrum delavayi, a stunning plant which is just irresistable.

    Easy to grow it adds height and colour the borders, mixed well with cottage plants such as Delphinium and Achillea but also looks good with grasses as its seed heads are attractive and I always leave them on the plant for as long as possible . Growing Tips.