Monthly Archives: June 2019

Supporting Summer-Flowering Perennials

At this time of year, mid to late-summer flowering herbaceous perennials are putting on lots of growth, getting ready to show off their blooms – It’s an exciting time in the garden. However, as established and strong as these perennials appear while they fill up your flowerbeds with lush green leaves, they are likely to need a bit of support as they start to flower. All too often, the weight of the open flowers will drag the flower stems down and sometimes even break off under their own weight. Sometimes flowers will start to lean to one side, usually towards the light if they are in a part-shaded area of the garden. Heavy and prolonged periods of heavy rain can also make perennials sprawl out in all directions, which can look quite unsightly or risk damage to the plant.

If you didn’t get the chance to put in supports earlier in the season, now is a good time to do it. You can buy all manner of decorative plant supports from garden centres, or create your own supports to give your borders extra interest:

Decorative Support

Rosa 'Moonlight' with Delphinium 'Galahad' - © GAP Photos/Elke Borkowski

Rosa ‘Moonlight’ with Delphinium ‘Galahad’ – © GAP Photos/Elke Borkowski

The bronze, rusty metal of these tall cage-like frames make the white, flowering Delphiniums sparkle even more. As the Delphiniums grow, the cage will provide a steady support to keep the flower spikes upright.

Invisible Support

Hoop plant support around Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' - © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Hoop plant support around Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ – © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

This clever plant support is best installed while the plant is still young and low to the ground. As the Dahlia grows through the gaps in the frame, its leaves will gradually cover the metal, and the plant will appear upright in habit, with invisible support.

Economical Support

Staking perennial plants with cat's cradle of string and sticks - © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Staking perennial plants with cat’s cradle of string and sticks – © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Buying a support for each plant as your borders fill up could prove costly. However, you can create effective and low-cost supports yourself with strong jute string and wooden stakes. First, hammer the stakes in around the plant you would like to support, and then wind the string around the stakes in a cat’s cradle fashion so the plant will be supported internally as it continues to grow.

Floral Support

Woman tying Dahlias to canes for support - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Woman tying Dahlias to canes for support – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Don’t hesitate to apply support as and when it is needed. While thinking about how to stake and support your plants earlier in the season can save you work later on, there are quick fixes. Here a woman is tying her tall growing Dahlias to canes so the flowers don’t break under their own weight.

Ornate Support

Hazel plant supports for Euphorbia wallichii in Spring, in the herbaceous border at RHS Wisley - © GAP Photos/Fiona McLeod

Hazel plant supports for Euphorbia wallichii in Spring, in the herbaceous border at RHS Wisley – © GAP Photos/Fiona McLeod

Woven hazel frames might take a bit of manipulation and work to create, but they are practical, environmentally friendly and provide a natural and decorative touch to a frosty, sparse winter border. Here, a woven hazel frame will eventually provide support to the Euphorbia growing below it.

5 Materials to Mulch Your Garden With This Summer

Applying a mulch to garden beds and borders is generally a great habit to get into, and is beneficial at most times in the year. It helps to keep moisture and goodness in the soil, keeps plant’s roots warm and suppresses weeds. Early summer is a great time to mulch, reducing the need to water as regularly as normal when the heat arrives. However, you can be creative with what you use to mulch, rather than traditional manure or bark chippings. Below are five environmentally-friendly materials that you can use to protect your plants.

Garden compost

Mulching the base of a cut back Agapanthus with natural garden compost - © GAP Photos

Mulching the base of a cut back Agapanthus with natural garden compost – © GAP Photos

Mulching with home-made garden compost is a fantastic way of giving the soil surrounding your plants a nutrient boost, as well as reusing your garden waste.

Marbles

Carex in red seaside bucket with mulch of marbles - © GAP Photos/Julia Boulton

Carex in red seaside bucket with mulch of marbles – © GAP Photos/Julia Boulton

Why not make your mulching decorative and include glass pebbles or marbles? These materials are probably better suited to mulching plants in containers, so they can all be kept together and do not end up getting lost around the garden.

Grass Cuttings

Solanum tuberosum 'Epicure' - Applying grass clippings as a mulch to earthed up organic Potatoes - © GAP Photos/Maxine Adcock

Solanum tuberosum ‘Epicure’ – Applying grass clippings as a mulch to earthed up organic Potatoes – © GAP Photos/Maxine Adcock

Don’t add your grass cuttings to the compost heap, instead spread them under plants in borders or over your vegetable garden to add goodness to the soil. This method is sustainable, and good for the environment and your garden.

Straw

Fragaria - Ripening strawberries mulched with straw in June - © GAP Photos/Maxine Adcock

Fragaria – Ripening strawberries mulched with straw in June – © GAP Photos/Maxine Adcock

Straw is a fantastic mulch to use in the summer, especially for low-growing fruit and vegetables such as strawberries, as it creates a clean barrier between the harvest and the soil, and keeps the plant’s roots cool.

Broken slate and pebbles

Step 7 of planting an Acer in a terracotta pot - Cover the surface with broken shale for extra drainage - © GAP Photos/BBC Magazines Ltd

Step 7 of planting an Acer in a terracotta pot – Cover the surface with broken shale for extra drainage – © GAP Photos/BBC Magazines Ltd

Adding stones and pebbles as a mulch to containers and pots serves as both a decorative and practical purpose. It keeps moisture in the soil, and adds a natural topdressing to hide unsightly soil.