Flower Power: Main tasks in the garden are keeping weeds under control this summer

Admin (30 May, 2019) Columnists

Make sure you keep on top of the weeds in your garden this summer, says the News' gardening columnist, Jackie Powers

29805Osteospermum flowers

The weather brought surprises during May – in the first two weeks temperatures dropped and a cold, blustery east wind brought heavy rain and hail showers!

June is the traditional start of summer; the Solstice falls on 21st and then days imperceptibly begin to get shorter!

(Although not noticeable until August). In the meantime, there will be long summer days to enjoy.  June is usually fine and warm; although thunderstorms often arrive as temperatures begin to rise.

The main tasks in the garden; are keeping weeds under control, watering in dry spells and feeding/mulching plants. Daffodils and other spring bulb foliage will have died away; remaining dried leaves can be cleared.

One destructive pest that makes an appearance at this time of year, on houseplants, window boxes and in the garden, is the vine weevil.

This mottled dark brown beetle strolls around waving its antennae and is usually seen on leaves; their larvae do the damage munching away at roots.

They are not always noticed until a plant collapses for no apparent reason.

Vine weevils are difficult to control; remove the beetles quickly, they tend to appear at night, hiding skillfully most of the time on the undersides of leaves (nibbling away at leaf edges).

Check carefully around plant roots for any signs of larvae in the soil (remove immediately).

There are numerous summer annuals/perennials to enjoy; including the bee-friendly Scabious with its delicate pale lavender or pink blooms and Foxgloves – recognisable by their tall stems carrying pale pink, white or purple bell-shaped flowers.

Osteospermum (pictured) has attractive daisy-like flowers (either mauve pink or white); usually grown in large clumps along border edges.

Their flowers close at sunset and re-open in the day time. (Regular dead-heading will extend flowering time).

Herbs in flower include Thyme, some Lavenders and Sage – the latter has deep blue flowers (attractive to bees) and soft grey-green leaves with a pungent odour.

It is an interesting plant to grow as a feature in the garden.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a culinary herb used to flavour meats, pasta dishes and cheeses. Leaves (dried or fresh) are used very sparingly due to its strong flavour.

Salvia officinalis is also a traditional herbal remedy; used to treat a variety of ailments from throat/mouth infections to night sweats; and it is said to improve the memory.

Caution: For advice on medicinal uses (and herbs generally) always consult a qualified practitioner.

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