With all due respects to the late Freddie Mercury he really didn’t know what he was talking about; unless of course he meant gardening at the hight of Summer. Yes, it’s all happening now, things are sprouting like crazy, everything is crying out for water, the weak are dying and the strong are thriving. At this time of year I am not so much a gardener as a cross between Gunga Din, Florence Nightingale and Albert Pierrepoint – I am either watering, tending to, or unfortunately executing plants. See I told you stick with this blog: great literature and gardening, what’s not to like. Anyway on with the show.
19th July: Things I have been doing lately
✂️ Trimming seed pods from Trumpet Vine. If you have Trumpet Vine then you will know that once they have flowered they will then produce a lot of spectacular seed pods, some of which can be almost a metre long. Now this is fine and lovely at the end of the season, but we need flowers now and the seed pods must go. Using your secateurs or shears trim and tidy up the Vine making sure you take off all the seed pods. Once you have done this the plant will begin to flower again within a couple of weeks and you will have a whole new flush of flowers. You can probably do this twice over the flowering season, but make sure that eventually you leave the last lot of seed pods as they make a spectacular addition to the late summer garden.
The first photo below shows the Trumpet Vine with its seed pods. The next photo shows the plant tidied up and ready to flower again.
🚿 Spraying grape vine. At this time of year grape vines are liable to get mildew of one type or another. In Spain it is usually Powdery Mildew which is caused by a pathogen (whatever that is – I always worry about things with “patho” in them). Anyway, it is important that you spray your vines as soon as you see the first signs. This usually involves white powdery residue on the leaves which then start to curl and go brown. You can buy proprietary brands of mildew killer that do a good job. If you fail to spray then the leaves will all fall off and the fruit will rot – don’t say I didn’t tell you. The photo below shows one of my vines with the start of mildew.
💣 Spraying Roses for Rust. I have lots of Roses and I often mention how much time I spend trying to make them look nice, only to be repaid by them constantly skewering me on their thorns. My favourite Rose depends on the time of year, but one of my best is “Munstead Wood”. This is a beautiful deep red heavily cupped Rose which when it is in full bloom has a beautiful beguiling scent. However, Munstead Wood is a bit like an ageing Hollywood actress who is a complete hypochondriac and is always demanding attention. If there is a disease or pest anywhere around, then this Rose will get it. Throughout the year it manages to get: Greenfly, Whitefly, Blackfly, Mildew and Rust, sometimes all at the same time.
This year her early blooms where wonderful and I really thought she was pulling her self together. But unfortunately no. She has taken to languishing on her metaphorical couch all day with a cold compress over her eyes. She has Rust again and she looks absolutely terrible. The photo below shows one of my Munstead Woods looking very much the worse for wear. The solution is sitting beside her. A good dose of Ant Rust spray administered every second night for a week. We will soon have her back on her feet.
🌿 Planting a cutting from the lovely Solanum. Regular readers of this blog will know that my plant of the year which I have grown from a cutting is a lovely Solanum (Potato Vine). Planted out in February this is now over twenty foot high and has been flowering profusely for two months. I am so enamoured of this plant that I have left it something in my Will. But not only that, I have been giving cuttings to all and sundry. I have kept a few cuttings and am now beginning to plant out.
Now I know that you know how to plant things out, but just in case you don’t this is what you should do. First you need to get some rich compost from your compost heap, or, if you must go to a shop. When taking compost from your heap make sure that you leave your Trug lying on its side for half an hour as this let’s all the beneficial insects that you have scooped up sneak back into the heap. Cruella (my wife) laughed at me when I told her this was important, she even asked for some bugs for her spells. The first photo below shows the bugs, whilst the second shows their escape route back to the compost bin. Click on each photo.
Once you have dug the necessary hole for the plant and filled it with water at least twice, then you are ready to plant out your cutting. However, you can’t plant it into compost alone. If you do this you will cause the roots to circle round and around as they refuse to leave the lovely compost and make their way out into the real soil. You need to mix your compost with a 50/50 mixture of compost and the soil you dug from the planting hole. This mixture will give the right amount of reassurance to the plant without mollycoddling it, the end result is that it will make its way out into the soil.
The photo below shows three trugs: one holding compost from the heap, one with the soil and the third for mixing. The final photo shows the lovely Solanum planted ready to grow up wires and protected from marauding Labradors by rocks.
👩🎤 Pruning Dame de Noche. This is one of the great plants of Spain. Admittedly it’s not very good looking, but it smells wonderful. Anyway, if you’ve got it you will know what I mean. By now your plant should have finished its first flowering, if you want more then you need to act now. Cut your plant down by one third. Don’t do anymore, and don’t do any less. The temptation is to try and tidy the whole thing up, but don’t bother it’s like putting lip stick on a Pig, it won’t look any better and will still smell the same. If you do this now then you will have a whole new flush of flowers in about a month’s time and can enjoy that intoxicating scent in the late summer air.
The photos below shows the Dame de Noche before and after its prune. As I said not a looker, but does she smell.