With high summer in full swing at Longmeadow, Monty Don is busy ensuring that his plants are making the most of the warmth and light. He puts to use the homemade fertilizer he made a few weeks ago and catches up with his tomato-growing trial to see how the different techniques are performing.
Carol Klein gets to grips with flowering dogwoods, perhaps the most aristocratic and elegant of all garden trees, and there's a visit to a magical topiary garden in Kent.
Blossom end rot
In Monty’s trial, the tomato plants in the grow bag are romping away but their fruit is the first to show signs of blossom end rot.
Blossom end rot is a physiological condition caused by an irregular water supply. When water is not constantly available to plant roots, calcium (a key nutrient in the soil or compost) can’t circulate fully around the plant and this leads to cell damage in the fruits.
Grow bags are notoriously difficult to keep consistently moist as they provide a very limited root space and can be tricky to fill with water. If you use grow bags, take extra care to ensure water is properly absorbed before draining out of the bags and the compost never fully dries out.
If you see blossom end rot on your tomatoes, don’t worry: affected fruits are inedible but new healthy fruits should form once watering is adjusted.
More about blossom end rot (apps.rhs.org.uk)
Topiary is a great gardening tradition which stretches back to Roman times and was revived during the Arts and Crafts period to become a key feature of the British cottage garden.
If you’re inspired by Charlotte Molesworth’s figures or Monty’s new Nigel project, why not create your own? Now is the season for pruning box, yew and privet but, before you do, consider what shapes the new growth could be trained into. For an instant effect, metal frames can be placed on top or around existing shrubs and trimmed into shape now.
For a list of gardens to visit and see great topiary, please scroll down to the end of this page.
More useful information about topiary (apps.rhs.org.uk)
Jobs for the weekend: Water in dry weather
Watering can take up a lot of time at this point in the year so it’s important to do it efficiently. The best way to water is to give plants a soak not a sprinkle, be it a large pot or a border. Really drench them thoroughly; the roots will then go down deep meaning they’ll dry out less quickly and you’ll have to water them less often.
Jobs for the weekend: Plant out brassicas for next spring
Although these are the high days of summer, it’s time to plant out crops like purple sprouting broccoli for harvest next spring. Get it in the ground now and it can grow steadily through the rest of summer and autumn. Remember with all long-term brassicas: plant them firmly in the ground, stake them if necessary and give them plenty of space; about 2ft (60cm) between plants is ideal.
More about growing purple sprouting broccoli (www.rhs.org.uk)
Jobs for the weekend: Summer prune trained pears and apples
Mid to late summer is a good time to prune trained apples and pears, including espaliers, cordons and fans. Cut this year’s growth back to about 3 -5cm to create a short spur. This may seem drastic but it will restore the shape, allow light to ripen existing fruit and encourage the new spur to ripen and form fruit buds for next year’s crop.
For advice about summer pruning (apps.rhs.org.uk)
Top topiary to visit
Cumbria: Levens Hall (www.levenshall.co.uk)
Devon: Knightshayes Court (www.nationaltrust.org.uk)
Dorset: Mapperton House (www.mapperton.com)
Gloucestershire: Bourton House (www.bourtonhouse.com)
Gwynedd: Plas Brondanw (www.brondanw.org)
Hampshire: Hinton Ampner (www.nationaltrust.org.uk)
Kent: Hever Castle http://www.hevercastle.co.uk/
Rutland: Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue (www.discover-rutland.co.uk)
Shropshire: Wenlock Priory (www.english-heritage.org.uk)
Warwickshire: Packwood House (www.nationaltrust.org.uk)
|Series Editor||Liz Rumbold|