June and July's garden

July and August’s Garden

 

After a pretty decent amount  of   sun   throughout June this year, I’m sure everybody has their garden on full show.  I   hope   everyone   is   enjoying   their   bit   of   greenspace. With that extra sun we  haven’t  been  used  to,due to our terrible summers the last couple of years;one might forget how important watering is. Even aftera pretty  rainy   day   in   Dublin,   your   plants   will   dry   outvery quickly after as little as an hour or so in the sun.Water from rainfall evaporates as quickly as it comesdown,   so   the   percentage   of   that   rain   that   the   plantactually absorbs isn’t very high. So keep on top of thatthroughout the summer, especially plants in containers,hanging   baskets,   greenhouse   pots   with   plants   orvegetables, shrubs and perennials.Next is roses, assuming everyone has taken good careof   theirs   don’t   forget   to   dead   head.   This   is   seriouslyimportant;   to   possibly   get   that   last   chance   of   moreblossoms   before   the   summer   is   out.   I   know   manypeople,   not   even   keen   gardeners   keep   a   homemadecompost heap in their garden. Its peak time to start touse   some   of   your   heap,   start   by   spreading   a   smallamount over your beds, it gives the soil a great feedand a 4nal batch of energy to see it through to the end

of the summer.  Also for keen gardeners there is someheavier work to do,  after several seasons of returning to full bloom and growing, perennial plants within beds and   herbaceous   borders   will   begin   to   die   out   in   thecenter and look more like a ring than a clump. To keep the plants vigorous and blooming, a technique known as   'division'   is   performed.   Dividing   perennial   plantsgives   you   healthier,   longer   lived   plants   and   also   the great bonus of more plants! With which you can keep or share   with   family   members   or   neighbours.   When   todivide perennials depends on the type of plant and howquickly it's growing. You don't have to wait until your perennial plants begin looking too big though. In fact,it's better if you don't. Keep an eye out for clumps thathave grown 2-3 times their size within 2-5 years. Any over   grown   clump   or   any   clump   that   has   simply exceeded   the   space   allotted   is   perfect   for   division.Technically spring is usually the best time for division,since  the plants are actively growing their leaves are not so developed that the root system can't take a littledisturbance and still feed the top of the plant. However,just as different plants can go different lengths of time before   being   divided,   some   plants,   like   peonies   and bearded irises, prefer to be divided in early September.If  you   4nd  you  must  divide   a  plant  with  a  lot  of  top growth, cutting back the leaves/foliage by about 1/3 willlessen the amount of work the roots will need to do tomaintain the foliage after division. Also giving the plant a good soak before you intend to disturb its root system will really benefit the plant in the long run, and avoidtotal disaster of losing the plant altogether!   Have the new   space/hole   you   wish   to   plant   the   divided   shrub

ready   and   waiting   for   the   new   plant   so   it   can   go straight   in   and   avoid   any   chance   of   drying   out   or damage to the roots. When digging out the shrub from the bed, make sure you get as much of the root ball as possible. Once out it’s ready to be split, a very common method of dividing perennials is to use 2 pitch forks to pry   and   split   the   plant   apart.   Perennial   plants   with@eshy roots are easily divided with garden forks. Insert the forks into the center of the plant so that the backs of the forks are touching each other and the tines are crossing. Press down so that the forks go through the plant.   You   will   probably   hear   some   cracking   at   this point. If you only have one fork, try to split it with a spade.  For more densely rooted plants they require a different method, this can be done with a saw, by two people obviously to keep the shrub still and to avoid an accident! Once split, replant as soon as possible as if it were a new plant. I know the idea of splitting a healthy plant   may   sound   intimidating,   but   once   it’s   done correctly   it   will   flourish   and   you’ll   have   no   problem doing the rest of your bed or herbaceous border.

Brian has a BSc in Horticulture and a degree in Botany  from Trinity College Dublin

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