They say that no garden is complete without water. With this in mind, I've some tips on water plants this week. Water is a magnet for wildlife, but I've also got some other tips to bring your garden alive.
Bedding plants and pots
- By now you may have planted most of your bedding annuals. However, some of the best are late starters. Cosmos, Begonia Glowing Embers and Million Kisses, Coleus/Solenostemon and Salvia are fantastic garden performers so make space for these!
- Fill a container with a mix of herb plants. Avoid mixing mint - better on its own - but grow those you're likely to use on the BBQ. I grow chives, marjoram and thyme and put the pot in the sunniest spot. Why not use a quirky container, like this old barbecue?
Ponds and bog plants
- Water-loving plants can really get established this month. Aim to cover at least a third of the water surface with leaf. This will cut down algae growth but, just as importantly, provide shelter for wildlife.
- Water lilies can be planted now. Unless you have a big pond, only plant a single plant and choose a small growing variety. Established lilies can be divided and replanted now as well. Throw away the oldest parts and replant the youngest bits.
- Remember to clean water filters regularly. If the water goes green and has a 'bloom', use barley straw in a net to clear it. Find more information here:
- You can plant water's edge plants - also called 'marginals' - and oxygenating plants now. Avoid those that are invasive and those that are banned. Stick to those that are native, or are closely related to, our native plants. Here's some more inspiration:
- Birds need fresh, clean water to drink and bathe. Provide a regularly refilled birdbath. But position it where birds can escape quickly into safe cover away from cats and predatory birds.
- Keep some areas of longer grass and even some weeds as wildlife sanctuaries. Piles of old logs can make a brilliant home for wildlife. A small sheet of corrugated iron may encourage slow worms and grass snakes into your garden. In return, they will eat many of your pests.
- Feed hedgehogs with a little cat food but take care that you aren’t encouraging too many foxes. Talk to your neighbours about creating a “Hedgehog Highway” between gardens by making holes in fences for hedgehogs to use.
- Encourage lots of insects into your garden to provide food for wildlife and pollinate your crops. Plant or sow flowers that have single blooms and a long flowering period.
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- Whether it's to minimalise bending or to get earlier crops; raised beds are a great way to grow your own fresh food.
- Sow fast-growing veg between slow-growing ones. Radish, salad leaves and turnips sown between sprouts or purple sprouting broccoli will double up your yield.
- The Chelsea Chop! Professional gardeners extend the flowering period of hardy perennial plants by cutting part of some plants down now. This delays flowering on the cut part and extends the display!