It’s a really busy time in the gardens at the moment and a time when we enlist the help of some of the local school leavers and volunteers to try and keep on top of things…
A very wet June has soaked the garden and now July is hitting some seriously high temperatures, the weeds are loving it.
Annual weeds such as shepherd's purse, bittercress and fat hen are easily hoed off and in dry weather will shrivel up and die. Perennial weeds like dandelions, nettles and thistles are best pulled out root and all (this is considerably easier after some rain, it's also strangely satisfying to pull out the whole root of a dandelion). If you hoe off these perennials they will get knocked back, but they'll also grow back in a matter of days if their roots are left in the ground.
Now the summer bedding, roses, sweet peas and Dahlias have been flowering for a while they'll need to be deadheaded to keep them flowering. All the plant wants to do is flower, get fertilised and set seed. They need to be annoyed into thinking an animal has grazed their flowers off meaning it will just have to keep on flowering for longer.
Because we've been deadheading to make the plants produce more flowers they'll get hungry, especially plants in pots. It doesn't take long for watering to wash nutrients out of the compost. We use a seaweed based tomato feed as this has all the nutrients a flowering plant needs, especially potassium which the plant needs for making flowers, which is what we want from these plants.
Since I started working at Easton 13 years ago, one of the main jobs was to increase the numbers of shrubs and trees in the garden as we only had lots of very mature trees and lots of grass and very little else. We had no hedges so a visitor would come through the gatehouse and see everything. For a very long time we had the very mature trees and very young newly planted trees and shrubs and nothing in between.
Those early plantings and the early hedges (mainly Box, Yew and Privet) have begun to mature and are now at a stage where, especially with some of the hedges, it's a major operation to get them cut and some of the shrubs, which were planted surrounded by nothing but are now in enclosed and hedged in spaces have started to encroach into areas they shouldn't.
So July, these days, is pruning lots early summer flowering shrubs, after flowering. These generally flower on the previous year's growth. Winter, spring and early flowering shrubs are pruned after flowering, the exception being flowering cherries which need to be left until July when the risk of them contracting the silver leaf fungus has passed. The hedges we leave until the nesting birds have fledged.
We always welcome volunteers to come and get involved so if this is something that interests you, please get in touch! 01476 530063 or firstname.lastname@example.org