When I told Cruella (my wife) that I had to urgently get this post out she scoffed and said there was no way I could waste time on my hobby as we had to get the house ready for the idiot son’s annual holiday in Spain. I argued that seeds and flowers wait for nobody, but she insisted. So that basically is how I ended up on top of the shed.
Over the years I have developed a passive aggressive strategy that involves agreeing to everything Cruella says and then basically going and hiding where she can’t find me. This tactic has served me well, but Cruella has got wise to it. As I lie in my new hiding place, at the back of the shed roof I can hear her searching all my normal hiding places. So far she has searched inside the shed, raised and slammed down the compost bin lids, plunged her hand down into the water butts (she knows I have a snorkel). She is now standing in the middle of the lawn threatening to cut the heads off of all the flowers if I don’t come out.
I will let you know what happens, in the meantime on with the gardening.
3rd July 2021. Things I have been doing lately:
🌻 Extending Sunflower flowering. If you have grown sunflowers this year then the main flower may just be about spent. You can if you wish leave this deadhead on to completely turn to seed which in turn will feed the birds. But if you want more flowers then you have to act now. You can get a second flush of smaller but perfectly formed sunflowers on the same stem, but only if you cut off the main flower head. Cut off the head and stem just above the last leaf at the top of the main stem. With luck and the right variety you will end up with a flush of mini sunflowers coming down the stem.
The first photo below shows my sunflowers just as they were beginning to come into flower. The next photos show the effect that cutting off the main head has on extending the flowering. And if you are worried about feeding the birds, then don’t; instead of getting a main course, they get a selection of Tapas (they are Spanish birds after all). Click on each photo for a larger view.
🌼 Making the most of Marigolds. If you have sown Marigolds then you will know they are a joy to grow as they germinate quickly and provide you with hundred of flowers from one seed pack. But, if you want them to last all Summer and be at their absolute best then there are a number of things you should be doing right now.
The first thing you need to do is to save seed for next year from the very best blooms. The first flush of flowers will always be the biggest and the best, with successive flowering’s gradually getting smaller. It is from this first flush that you need to save your seed. Don’t just rely on you remembering which flower was the best. When they are all brown and withered they all look the same. Get some masking tape and wrap a piece of this round the stems of the best flowers. In this way when you come to dead head you know to leave these alone and let them go to seed.
The first photo below shows my trusty masking tape ready to be deployed, whilst the rest of the photos show the chosen ones. Click on each photo for a larger view.
As well as collecting seed you need to make sure that you tie up the stems to stop them dropping. This requires lots of canes and string, but it is worth it. The other important thing you have to do is deadhead daily to ensure consecutive blooms. The first photo shows my tying in activities, whilst the next photo shows a deadheading foray. The final photo shows the view down the drive. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🪚 Keeping lavender trimmed. Lavender grows very well in our Spanish climate, and most people will have all sorts of lavender in their garden. The secret to multiple flushes of lavender is to trim it at the right time and in the correct way. Not all types of lavender will be ready to trim at the same time. So before you trim make sure that the flower stems are fully dried, but preferably before they start dropping seed.
The first photo below shows one of my mini water features which I have surrounded with a lavender circle that is now ready to trim. The next photo shows you exactly where you need to trim. Trimming should be at the bottom of the dried flower stem, but you must not cut into the green growth as this is where your next flush of flowers is coming from. The final photo shows the newly trimmed lavender ready to get flowering again. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🫖 Taking a break. We keen gardeners can sometimes forget how old we are, and think we can garden all day, just as we did in our young days. But in the Summer heat it is important to take regular breaks and get your self out of the sun. I don’t want to go all “Nanny state” on you, but it is not a good idea to drink alcohol and then garden in the sun. Far better to drink water regularly, or if you are a tea fanatic like me, buy some good loose leaf Early Grey and mix it with loose leaf Darjeeling and let it brew for 3 to 6 minutes before drinking.