Helens been reading the dictionary!

Not so much finding myself in a garden this week, as completely losing myself in the soft green growth of herbaceous borders. Forget-me-nots have rampaged all over, geraniums are spreading their leaves and the late summer phlox is already pushing skywards. I’m just waiting for the ever dependable peonies to burst their buds and join the party.

There’s been lots of tying in as various clematis have made a bid for freedom, together with the newly pruned honeysuckle which has a new lease of life. Foxgloves, aquilegia and astrantia are all enthusiastic this year, and the soft fruit bushes are showing some promising buds, although I suspect there will be the annual battle for red currants between me and the birds.

As daylight hours become longer and the soil warmer there is so much to appreciate in your garden. So this week, just lose yourself in the moment.

Jobs for this week…..

Earth up your potatoes
As the green shoots appear, mulch up and around the stems with compost to encourage more underground lateral growth that will bear more potatoes. Keep adding to the mound as the stems get taller.

Weed regularly
Little and often, making certain to get the whole root out especially with dandelions, nettles and mare’s tail. Using a hoe is fine to break young soft weeds, but for those with more established tap or stoloniferous (I did warn you Ed.) roots and rhizomes you will need to dig down with a hand trowel or fork. Couch grass, brambles and bindweed are a complete nuisance in the borders, taking up nutrients and water as they grow rapidly through the earth tangling around your plants and taking over in a very bossy manner. Follow their roots back underground to the very tip and make sure you get them all; one of the most satisfying jobs!

Taking cuttings is a very easy method of increasing your plant stock. This time of year is perfect to take softwood cuttings from deciduous shrubs like philadelphus, buddleia, forsythia and hydrangea.
Firstly: Remove the shoot (about 10-12cm long) just above the leaf joint from the parent plant. Remove the lower leaves from the cutting and cut the stem below the lowest leaf joint. Chop the remaining leaves in half to minimise water loss.
Next: Place the cutting into a small pot with moist compost making sure the first leaf joints are under the soil. Cover with a clear plastic bag. Keep your cuttings out of direct sunlight and water lightly & regularly. You will see signs of leaf, bud and root growth within a few weeks.

Clip evergreen hedges back into shape only after checking for nesting birds. If you start pruning and later suspect there is wildlife activity then stop and leave it until late August when the nesting season is over. I once ended up with a lop-sided Hymalayan honeysuckle owing to the discovery of a rather indignant goldfinch family in the very centre.

Regular mowing, edges clipped, seed any bare patches, feed with a designated lawn fertiliser if needed…..and don’t worry about the odd dandelion, after all, the bees will thank you for it.