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Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 09:00

Summer is really here now and the garden should be a colourful, scented haven, filled with birds, bees and butterflies. Our gardens need to support wildlife, but not only the pretty species ­­– creepy crawlies are so important for our eco-systems.

Summer prune wall-trained apples by cutting out the thin, whippy branches that have grown this year back to four or five buds to encourage fruiting spurs.

Snip cuttings of your garden herbs

Take cuttings of lavender, rosemary and sage. Pot them up and place in a shaded part of the greenhouse or a shady cold-frame. Take several of each – if they all take you’ll have plants to give to friends, neighbours or school plant stalls! Keep cutting your mint so it doesn’t get leggy and pinch out the tips of basil, lemon balm and oregano. You can use the prunings to flavour your summer cooking.

Peg down the little runners from your strawberry plants to make them root and, once rooted, they can be severed from the parent and transplanted. If you leave runners on it reduces the vigour in the plant.

Iris are such beautiful plants. Now is the time of year to lift and divide large clumps of bearded iris after they have flowered. Use a sharp knife to cut through thick sections of root. Divide into smaller pieces, leaving a couple of fans of leaves on each piece. Trim these leaves by half and replant the rhizome just below the soil level, facing south if possible so that the sun can bake it.

If you have grown early potatoes they should be ready to lift now. Continue sowing ‘cut and come again’ varieties of lettuce in small batches, but keep them out of the hot sun and keep moist but not soaking.

If you notice little metallic beetles on your rosemary you should pick them off and destroy them, as they can do lots of damage to the plant if they are in large numbers.

Prune early summer flowering shrubs

Now is a good time to prune early summer flowering shrubs like Philadelphus, Deutzia, Wiegela and Rubus as they have finished flowering. If you cut out about one in three of the thickest old branches at the base, new shoots will take their place and keep the plant floriferous.

As with all shrubs after pruning, lightly fork in some pelleted chicken manure or balanced fertiliser like Gromore around the base, water well and mulch with some compost or well-rotted manure to give the plant a real boost. Don’t bring the mulch up to touch the stems or they may rot.

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