In an attempt to deal with the grief at losing Nero (the Labrador), I have been gardening all day throughout the current oppressive heat. Of necessity this has meant that I have divested myself of all my clothes, apart from my gardening hat of course. Cruella (my wife) is concerned that the neighbours may see me so she has rendered me invisible. Anyway more of this nonsense later, let’s get on with the gardening .
12th July 2021. Things I have been doing lately:
Keeping gravelled areas clear. With all this heat, trees and perennials are starting to shed their leaves and foliage. This is a defensive mechanism to stop the plant losing too much water. The outcome of this is that gravelled areas of your garden will start to get covered with plant detritus which will soon mulch down into the gravel presenting a perfect mulch for weeds to take seed. To overcome this you need to rake or blow these areas clear. Failure to do this will mean that a whole new generation of weeds etc will spring forth from your gravel this autumn to torment you.
The photo below shows me cleaning up one of my gravelled areas; or at least it would if Cruella hadn’t made me invisible. If you look carefully to the left you can still see my shadow as I bent down to pick up the trug.
Cutting back foliage. Because of the heat you may find it necessary to trim back some of your plants foliage. This is especially the case if the plants are in pots as they will not be able to drive their roots down in search of water. I have had to trim back two large standards that grow in pots in my swimming pool area. Normally these would be lightly trimmed back after flowering and then severely pruned in the Autumn. However, the current extreme heat has meant that I have had to trim and sacrifice some short term flowering for the sake of the overall plant health. The first photo below shows the Standards with rampant foliage, whilst the second shows their life saving trim.
In addition to the Standards I decided to trim back two Red Peach cuttings I have been growing on. The largest of these will go in the ground next year, but in the meantime they need to be cut back because of the stress. From the photos of the before and after, you can see that I have just trimmed them back to give them a bit of trunk.
Pruning back a badly mauled Dame de Noche. I have a large mature Night scented Jasmine which is placed right beside our outside kitchen and seating area. Normally I can coax this plant to provide its exotic scent throughout mid to late Summer. However, the plant is liable to greenfly, whilst normally this is not a problem if you catch it on time. This year it had a bad infestation in early May and through my carelessness I didn’t spray until the infestation was well underway. When I did finally spray that stopped the infestation, but it was too late as the soft Spring growth was damaged by the sucking Aphids (when I saw the damage I didn’t say “sucking”.
Unfortunately the outcome is that I have had to take the plant back about six inches. This will lose me the mid Summer flowering, but I should get flowering and scent by Mid August. The first photo below shows the distortion caused to the stems by the Aphids. The next two photos show the Dame de.Noche before and after its trim.
Checking irrigation. Just because you put an irrigation system in a number of years ago, does not mean it is still in full working order. The current intense sunshine and high heat levels will play havoc with your irrigation system, causing leaks, clogs and general breakages. In addition the Spanish authorities have a habit of turning down water pressure in the Summer, which means water from your irrigation system may not actually be reaching your plants. By the time you notice that your plants are wilting it may already be too late.
You need to overhaul your system now by doing the following:
- Turn on your system
- Go round looking for any leaks and repair these
- Once all the leaks are repaired, turn your system back on
- With the system fully on, adjust each nozzle individually to make sure each plant is getting the necessary amount of water
- Finally check that the batteries in your timers are still ok
The first photo below shows one of my many recent leaks that is now thankfully repaired. The cause of the leak can be seen in the second photo. From this you can see that the tube had become brittle in the sun and developed splits and cracks.
I have entered the Gardeners Turner Prize competition. I collect watering cans like Cruella (my wife) collects other peoples finger nails, small dead animals and noxious substances. She is continually berating me and asking why I need more watering cans, but when I explain that there is a watering can for every occasion, she merely scoffs that when I die the lot will be thrown out; we are working on our relationship, but overall I think we are getting on better.
Anyway, I digress. If like me you have a lot of watering cans, and like me you are always falling over them., then behold in the photo below my new artistic creation.
The idiot son got heatstroke. I may have mentioned that the idiot son is over on holiday. This has sent Cruella into paroxysms of motherhood. He is being fed like a big fat cuckoo chick and his every whim is being met. He watches what he wants on television, sits in the front of the car while I am left in the boot. But the worst thing is that she insists on carrying him on her back wherever we go. If you don’t believe me see the photo below. She carried him around for 5 hours the other day in the blazing sun and then he got heatstroke and she loved giving him cold baths.