The Sunday Gardener's Blog

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  1. Leafy wisteria before summer pruning Trimmed down wisteria after summer prune

    July and early August are the best times to give the Wisteria it's summer prune. Over the summer months the Wisteria has put on a lot of vigorous growth and it needs a good prune . This prune needs to take off long wippy growth, and where the Wisteria has outgrown its allotted space. In the image it is impinging on the windows and needs cutting back.

    The other reason for pruning Wisteria in the summer is to ensure it keeps flowering. The pruning regime, Winter and Summer is an intrinsic part of the routine to ensure it flowers well.

    These quick before and after images show just how much Wisteria can be happily cut back. Advise on growing and pruning Wisteria, video advise on how to make Wisteria flower including the summer prune, and a reminder how lovely the Wisteria looked earlier in the year.


  2. Watchful eagle Chariot in wild flower meadow

    There is much to see at this lovely garden which includes some interesting sculptures  featured in the garden. Illustrated above is a watchful Eagle, and in the wild meadow, a magnificent chariot sculpture. 

    Mount Pleasant has lots of colourful zingy borders full of herbaceous planting with a great range of plants and colour. By contrast, it also has several attractive water features, creating a tranquil oasis with waterfalls and lilies. Walking around the garden there is an abundance of butterflies attracted to the varied planting, and it's buzzing with bees.

    An impressive feature is the the wildflower meadow which was in bloom, although the owner, Dave Darlington, told us that in previous years with the benefit of different weather, the meadow had flowered better. Still, this year with the drought we are lucky to have flowers and it looked pretty good to me. 

    There are 10 acres of gardens to see, which are carefully laid out so that as you walk around you twist and turn on the paths to find something of interest, a further garden, a pond, a Japanese garden, bog garden and dotted all around interesting sculptures. Much of the garden is hidden from view until you walk around and explore it. 

    There is so much to recommend the visitor to Mount pleasant gardens. Personally, I really liked the varied planting, large wildflower meadow and all the sculptures which together make for a very interesting garden.

    restful pond butterfly on yellow flower
    deer Sculpture in wildflower meadow
    varied border



  3. deadheading-310-x-240

    Dead heading is important to get the maximum number of flowers and flowering time from a plant.


    The purpose of most plants, perennials and annuals, is to reproduce. Plants reproduce by producing flowers which become seeds which are shed and dispersed at which point the cycle is complete. To encourage a plant to keep flowering, or to produce a second flush of  flowers, remove the spent flower so no seed is produced and the plant will strive to produce another flower. 

    Plants varying in how sensitive they are to dead heading, in terms of producing more flowers. Some plants, such as Clematis Crystal fountain, if deadheaded, may produce a second flush of flowers. For other plants, such as Sweet Peas, hardy Geraniums, and Roses, dead heading is vital to keep the plant flowering all summer long. Having explained this to a friend recently, she replied, "I did wonder why my sweet peas stopped flowering!" She didn't appreciate how important this simple task is for the continuance of flowers and a good summer display. 

    Head heading is also very important for bedding plants to keep them flowering. If they are not deadheaded, the flowers will become less and less, and the plant leggy and will soon go over. With a little care most bedding plants should flower for weeks if not months. 

    Plant such as hardy geraniums, common name, Cranesbill, can be very time consuming to dead head. The image left is of the dead flower heads removed from a hardy Geranium in one session. If it become too much, an alternative  with Cranesbill, Achillea mollis is to sheer the plant close to ground level and if done early enough in the growing season, it may produce a second flush of flowers. Doing this will certainly produce fresh green foliage if the plant is looking tired.

    If you are looking to dead head flowers with a single flower spike such as Delphinium, Digitalis (Foxglove) Salvia, just remove the spent  spike and sometimes the plant will reward with a smaller second flush alongside.


  4. Iris reticulata

    It's gone, but not quite forgotten. Spring if full of lovely images, above is Iris reticulata, blooming at Harlow Carr, but the Beast from the East with its prolonged, freezing wind has damaged garden plants, some permanently.

    The mild spell means we can get out and take stock, and the main casualties are the evergreen and semi evergreen shrubs. Other plants have suffered, the hellebores look a bit ragged and many plants are much later coming into spring bloom, in some areas almost a month late.

    Below are images of two plants illustrating the sort of damage which can be caused by the unusually cold weather. On the right Rosemary officinalis and on the left Cotoneaster. The Rosemary is too badly damaged to salvage, good only for the compost heap. The Cotoneaster, if you look closely does have some buds, so it is a wait and see gardening game.

    How to tell if your shrub has died? 

    The best way is to snap off a small branch, or scrape away the bark on a branch and examine the wood below. If it is brown all the way through, chances are it is dead. If it is green in the interior, the shrub should revive.

    Many of the evergreens may have wind burn, where the leaves look literally burnt, or shrivelled,  which should  improve with the warmer weather.  The Cotoneaster is normally evergreen/semi evergreen but it has shed all its leaves in the extreme weather. 

    A shrub which was really healthy before the bad winter  may well revive. The Rosemary was struggling because of the wet as well as the cold, and was not on best form before  the winter, and the Beast from the East was the final straw.  

    This maybe a good time to feed shrubs with a balanced fertilised to help them along, remembering that any , ericaceous i.e. acid loving shrubs, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellia, Pieris etc will need an ericaceous feed. 

    Shrubs whose branches have been damaged by the snow maybe best pruned. If the stems of the branches have been compromised, the shrub is better off being pruned back. You may loose from flowers in the spring, and if this is a problem you can tie up the branch to support it and then prune later if you prefer; depends in part how damaged the branch is.

    If you are not sure if your favourite shrub is alive or not, give it a feed and wait a while to see what spring brings.

    Cotoneaster damaged 310 Damaged rosemary