Perk up your garden for peak summer

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JUNE IS traditionally the month when the Spanish garden comes to life, as the cooler nights and longer days allow the maximum growing potential, before the extreme summer heat arrives.

Whether you’ve already got your garden looking in best condition for the coming season, or if you’re lagging behind, here are a few tips for the month, bearing in mind it’s your last chance to grow plants before the peak of summer.

SHRUBS:

If you haven’t cut back your box bushes or hedges already, early June traditionally the last chance to do so. Topiary shapes can be tricky to cut well at first, but with practice and special topiary shears, you’ll find it gets easier.

PERENNIALS AND BULBS:

Deadheading is a bit of a chore but it’s essential to keep plants such as roses, cosmos, tender geraniums, knautias and sweet peas flowering.

Early-flowering perennials, such as hardy geraniums and alchemilla, can be cut back very hard. They will regrow, look a lot better, and may even re-flower.

If you’re planting perennials, make sure the plant and the ground are both well watered before they go in. Water again afterwards and keep an eye on them for signs of stress.

CUTTINGS:

This is the time of year to take semi-ripe cuttings. These are created using this year’s growth while the stem is still a bit soft, and the technique is ideal for plants such as lavender, box, passion flower and heather.

Take a non-flowering shoot and trim off about 10cm, cutting just below a leaf node. Remove the lower leaves and place the cut end in a container with cutting compost. Then wait to see if it will root and take up water before all of its water is lost through the leaves.

There’s more chance of success if you keep everything moist, so slip a plastic bag over the top of the container and put it in a sunny spot to keep a good sauna-like atmosphere inside.

FRUIT AND VEGETABLES:

Continue planting salad crops in succession and cover fruit trees, gooseberries and currant bushes with nets.

Sow runner beans and French beans in lines or with a wigwam of bamboo canes. An old trick is to line a trench with newspapers before putting back the last of the soil so the water stays in place.

Be especially vigilant about watering during dry spells as beans really like to have their feet damp at all times.

Don’t forget pumpkins and squashes – sow now and they’ll be ready for Halloween.

Plant out late seed potatoes; chitting – leaving them in a warm, dark place to sprout – isn’t needed at this time of year.

Plant out tender plants such as courgettes, squash, tomatoes and sweetcorn, now that risk of frost has passed.

Sink a long cane into the ground alongside tomatoes and water well; regular watering is key with tomatoes.

Don’t forget the second earthing up of potatoes to keep the light away from the tubers.

Watch out for really hot days, which can dry out young plants. If the temperature goes up, try to water twice a day.

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