Thompson & Morgan Gardening Blog

Our gardening blog covers a wide variety of topics, including fruit, vegetable and tree stories. Read some of the top gardening stories right here.

Propagation, planting out and cultivation posts from writers that know their subjects well.

Wildflowers masterclass: best expert content

Wildflower mixture from T&M

Wildflowers are a colourful addition to the garden
Image: Wildflower mixture from Thompson & Morgan

Wildflowers are beautiful, colourful and a great way to attract beneficial insects to your outside space. Pick up tips on how to grow them in your garden, allotment, or even in an old wheelbarrow using these independent articles, videos and Instagram posts for inspiration. 

If you want to create your own annual or perennial wildflower meadow, take a quick look at our pre-prepared wildflower mixes for a quick and easy option. Alternatively, choose your favourite single varieties, like poppies, from our full range of quality wildflower seeds.

read more…

The ultimate guide to preserving fresh produce

Collection of preserved vegetables and fruits

Everything you need to know to preserve fresh produce for your freezer and pantry
Image: Shutterstock

What better way to deal with a glut, eat healthy food, and be more self-sufficient than by preserving your seasonal harvests? Here we take a look at five different ways to make the most of your fruit and vegetable plants by preserving the surplus for future use. 

From freezing to pickling, and drying to bottling, we give you the basics of each method. We’ve also asked some of our favourite bloggers to share their handy hints – preserving is easy, fun and guaranteed to make winter meals way more tasty.

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The best way to preserve apples

Apple 'Appletini' from T&M

You can do a lot with a bumper crop of apples
Image: Apple ‘Appletini’ from Thompson & Morgan

If you’re wondering what to do with a bumper haul of apples, never fear, there are plenty of ways to preserve your crop. We turned to some of our favourite bloggers for advice, asking them how they deal with an apple glut. 

Here are some of the best ways to store and preserve this most traditional of British fruits, along with top tips from those who’ve been there, done that and have the chutney to show for it! Inspired to grow a few more varieties? Take a look at our excellent selection of apple trees here.

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The best way to preserve tomatoes

Tomatoes in a bowl

Mandy’s cooked tomato passata is a great way to use cherry tomatoes
Image: MandyCanUDigIt

Wondering what to do with a glut of tomatoes? Lovely as it is to receive a bumper harvest of any crop, when it all comes at once, you can’t possibly eat it all. Friends and neighbours will only take so much, and it’s such a shame to see all your delicious food go past its best and end up on the compost heap. 

We asked gardening bloggers what they do when they haven’t been able to resist growing too many tomato plants. If you’re looking for new ways to preserve your tomatoes, here are six great ideas to try…

  1. Homemade passata
  2. Dried tomatoes
  3. Tomato chutney
  4. Tomato relish
  5. Pickled tomatoes
  6. Tomato-based ‘ready meals’

1. Homemade passata

Homemade tomato passata

Homemade passata can be frozen or preserved in jars and bottles
Image: Tin & Thyme

A central part of a Mediterranean diet, passata offers a taste of summer and is the perfect base for pasta sauces, chillies and more. For the true Italian method, wash and prep your tomatoes, removing the seeds, then blanch them in boiling water until they soften and the skins begin to peel. Now push through a sieve or mouli, until only the skins remain.

Sterilise your storage jars or bottles, add a leaf or two of fresh basil to each, and stir salt into the tomato paste just before pouring. Fill your jars to within a couple of centimetres of the top, then seal and boil for at least half an hour and allow to cool overnight.

Looking for a quicker result? Choclette, from Tin & Thyme makes her easy tomato sauce by blitzing all the raw ingredients in a blender before reducing it at a low simmer on the hob. See her recipe for the full method, and to discover why a dash of tamari can make all the difference to the final flavour!

Short on freezer space? Mandy, at MandyCanUDigIt, also uses the hob to produce a deliciously rich and super-concentrated tomato sauce that’s suitable for freezing. For full instructions check out her post on how to deal with a bumper crop of tomatoes.

And if you’re going to preserve anything successfully, you’ll need to know how to sterilise your bottles and jars. Choclette’s detailed instructions over at Tin & Thyme will help you with the process, whether you prefer the dishwasher, oven, microwave or water bath method. As she says, “there’s nothing more disappointing than opening a jar of mould.”

2. Dried tomatoes

Dehydrated tomato crisps

Monika makes tomato crisps using a dehydrator
Image: @monikabrzoza

One of the best ways to preserve tomatoes is to dehydrate them, says Carla Whitehouse from @flowers_and_veg_at_no_57.The ancient practice of removing moisture from fresh fruit and veg, meat and fish, read Carla’s post explaining how dehydrating fresh food stops “micro-organisms like yeast, mould, and bacteria from growing, and preserves food for future use while keeping nutrients intact.”

Monika Brzoza, who shares beautiful photography via @monikabrzoza (and runs a professional gardening business via @BloomingSistersLondon) says dehydrating is also her favourite preservation method. She stores her dried tomatoes in herb oil with some chillies added or loose in airtight jars – oh, and she saves some to serve as crisps which she says taste lovely sprinkled with salt and garlic pepper!

If you don’t have a dehydrator, simply use your oven to dry your tomato glut. Just cut into slices and spread in a single layer over a baking tray or rack, and pop them in the oven on a low heat until brittle. Kev at An English Homestead says he “dries carrots and tomatoes to use in stews and soups. I store these in jars so no plastic is used and I have some open-fronted shelves in a purpose-built pantry so we know how much we have left.

3. Tomato chutney

Tomato chutney on black pepper cracker

Katie at The Marmalade Teapot makes this delicious tomato chutney
Image: The Marmalade Teapot

Who can resist the aroma from a bubbling pan of spicy tomato chutney? Katie at The Marmalade Teapot says: “one of my favourite & most popular preserves is my tomato chutney. It’s great with cheese, in sandwiches, salads or even tossed through some pasta. I like to pot this up into little chutney jars & give away as gifts over the festive period.” Does that sound tempting? Head over to Katie’s blog for the full method – this is a really delicious recipe that anyone can try.

4. Tomato relish

Spicy tomato chutney

Eli and Kate relish the opportunity to make…relish
Image: In the Garden with Eli and Kate

If you like a little heat, you might also consider making this spicy tomato relish. Over at the popular blog and YouTube channel, In the Garden with Eli and Kate, the ladies used up the last of the beefsteak ‘Marmane’ tomatoes from their greenhouse by doing just that.

You’ll need to skin your tomatoes for this recipe. An easy process, Eli says all you need to do is, “make a cross in the bottom then put them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Take them out and plunge them in ice water for 30 seconds. The skin comes right off.” Do check out their blog post for the full instructions.

A good tip for home chutney-makers comes courtesy of Richard from The Veg Grower Podcast. He prefers a long slow cook to release all the flavours, and so uses a slow cooker. If you do have to use a large saucepan, he says, “one key thing I learned is that when making chutneys over a few hours, make sure to give the mixture a little stir every now and then so as not to let the mixture catch.”

5. Pickled tomatoes

Man holding tomatoes in box

Sam Corfield is a huge fan of pickled tomatoes
Image: @the_hairy_horticulturist

Sam, aka the Hairy Horticulturist, is a big fan of pickling. He says, “you might disagree but I believe you can pickle anything and I’m a big fan of pickled onions, beetroot, cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes and cucamelons… Grab some vinegar, reuse some glass jars and discover endless recipes online! Get on, give it a try, you won’t regret it.

When people think of pickles, they often think of hard veg like onions or beetroot, but you can easily pickle tomatoes too. Looking for a recipe? Head over to BBC Food for full ingredients and instructions from much-loved cookery expert Nigel Slater – all you need is vinegar, pickling spice, sterilised glass jars, a saucepan and a sense of culinary adventure.

6. Tomato-based ‘ready meals’

Collection of tomato and garlic

Rich tomato-based ready meals are a winter life-saver says Claire Crawford
Image: @sowing_at_the_stoop

Because tomatoes make such a great base for sauces and stews, it’s a good idea to batch cook your glut and freeze it down so that you’ve always got a tasty home-made ready meal waiting for you in the freezer when you’re late home from work, or in too much of a rush to cook from scratch. Richard at The Veg Grower Podcast told us that he likes to stock his freezer with homemade curries, stews and bolognaise to see him through the cold winter months.

Claire Crawford, at @sowing_at_the_stoop, makes a great pasta sauce which she pops into the freezer ready for dark winter evenings. The method? “Roast tomatoes and courgettes with onions and garlic, and some fresh rosemary in a little oil.” Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees until the tomatoes begin to caramelise. Once they’ve cooled, blitz with a hand blender, and freeze. Claire says, “it’s delicious stirred through pasta for a meat-free meal, or poured over cod and baked again in the oven.”

Andrew Oldham at Life on Pig Row uses a similar recipe and technique – he says “Remember that this sauce will reduce more when you come to cook it again so add water to the pan and cook it through before adding to cooking meat.

We hope our suggestions on preserving tomatoes give you some great ideas for dealing with your own tomato glut. Whether you decide to freeze, dry, pickle, oven roast or stew your fruit, do make sure you use it up. As Andrew says, even if your tomatoes are a little past their best, “don’t chuck them, sauce them!”

Eight best chutney recipes

Chutney in kilner jars

Turn your gluts into chutney and enjoy the taste of summer for seasons to come
Image: Angyalosi Beata/Shutterstock

Originating in India, chutney was brought back to Britain during colonial times and quickly became a popular way to preserve gluts of fresh produce. Not only does the delicious flavour liven up any dish, chutney is a great way to avoid waste and enjoy healthy, seasonal ingredients throughout the entire year. 

There’s still time to get growing – order a few garden ready vegetable plants to pop into gaps in your veg patch, herbaceous border or patio containers. And when you’re ready, here are 8 chutney recipes, courtesy of some of our favourite bloggers, to help you preserve your healthy homegrown produce at its best:

  1. Spiced apple chutney
  2. Rhubarb chutney
  3. Runner bean chutney
  4. Tomato chutney
  5. Summer chutney
  6. Turnip chutney
  7. Beetroot chutney
  8. Spicy Christmas chutney

read more…

How to dry and dehydrate fresh produce

Preservation cupboard with dried fruit

Kev dries 400 apples each year!
Image: An English Homestead

How would you like to enjoy dried chillies, vegetable crisps, and tomatoes all year round? In fact, you can dry a wide range of fruit, vegetables, and herbs – it’s an excellent way to preserve homegrown harvests for future use. 

There’s still time to give it a try – order a few garden-ready vegetable plants if you didn’t have time to sow your own. We asked some of our favourite grow-your-own bloggers to share their tried and tested methods for drying and dehydrating fresh produce. Here are their top tips…

read more…

Taking cuttings of half hardy salvias

Close up of red flowers of Salvia 'Royal Bumble'

Salvia ‘Royal Bumble’ is so free-flowering it can be hard to keep up with the dead heading – but doing so will keep it blooming throughout summer
Image: Annelise Brilli

Salvias are amongst the most rewarding plants I grow and some the easiest to propagate. Having amassed a collection over the years, I’ve been busy taking cuttings of my half hardy species as an insurance against any winter losses and to rejunvenate old plants. They root very easily – so do have a go and build up your own collection of these fabulous, long-flowering perennials.

Why grow half-hardy Salvias?

Pink flowers of Salvia 'Pink Amistad'

Salvia ‘Pink Amistad’ is an excellent new introduction for 2022 which follows on the success of its relative ‘Amistad’. Both are easy to grow and long-flowering.
Image: Thompson & Morgan

The first time I saw Salvias I was instantly hooked. Their flowers are distinctly lustrous and jewel-like, due to the tiny, light-reflecting hairs which cover their surfaces. This lends them an extraordinary depth of colour and they excel in velvety purples, indigo and maroons. If you prefer cooler colours, there are plenty of worthwhile choices, such as the new introduction, ‘Pink Amistad’. The range of colours and habits makes them versatile plants, suitable for everything from cottage borders to tropical schemes, and they are excellent in containers too.

Salvia 'Cerro Potosi' smothered in bright pink flowers

Salvias are remarkably floriferous
Image: Annelise Brilli

Salvias are also some of the longest flowering plants I have in my garden. Keep them well fed, watered and regularly deadheaded, and many will bloom from June/July until the first frosts. Once established, they are drought tolerant and flourish on freely draining soils, although in a very hot, dry summer they will cease flowering earlier. In which case, trim them, give them a good water and wait for a second flowering in late summer.

Close up of Hummingbird Hawkmoth hovering in front of flower with its long proboscis extracting nectar

Salvias are a pollinator magnet and great for attracting unusual insects such as Hummingbird Hawkmoths
Image: Canva

Added to all these excellent attributes, Salvia flowers are loved by pollinating insects. Every summer I keep a keen eye on my Salvia ‘Royal Bumble’ whose sweet nectar is a favourite tipple for visiting hummingbird hawk moths. On sunny days, this day-flying moth whizzes around the garden, stopping to hover in front of the flowers, sipping the nectar with a long proboscis just like a hummingbird.

If all of this isn’t enough, Salvias also have fragrant foliage, with some, such as Salvia ‘Cerro Potosi’, being deliciously fruity.

Salvia hardiness

Close up of red flowers of Salvia fulgens

I’ve been testing out the hardiness of Salvias over the years and many, including more tender species such as this Salvia fulgens, have proved to be surprisingly resilient. However, taking cuttings gives me a fall-back and room to overwinter a larger variety of smaller plants as Salvias are fast-growers and can become large specimens by the end of the summer.
Image: Annelise Brilli

When I first began gardening, half-hardy salvias were rather unusual and considered a little difficult due to their tender nature. There are now a plethora of cultivars available and given sunny, well-drained soil, I have found that many of these will reliably over-winter. Salvia ‘Amistad’ will even successfully overwinter outdoors in my clay soil. However, some are short-lived and like ‘Amistad’ become woody and decline as they get older. Don’t be too quick to throw them out though – Salvias are slow into growth and can look a bit sorry for themselves in the spring. Be patient and wait until the weather warms up to start them into growth.

Leave shrubby salvias with their top growth over the winter as this will give them some protection. When they begin shooting in spring, prune them back to a low framework. I normally find that the thicker stems of Salvia ‘Amistad’ die completely – in which case just cut them right down and new growth will emerge from the base.

The most tender species will need to be over-wintered in a greenhouse. They’re good candidates for patio containers, which can be easily moved under cover at the end of the winter.

How to take Salvia cuttings

Preparation

  • Regular pinching out of shoots from spring onwards will generate plenty of material for cuttings
  • Avoid additional fertilising in an attempt to stimulate new growth for cuttings. This results in soft, nitrogenous shoots which do not root as well.
  • Cuttings should be ‘turgid’ when they are taken – in other words, the plants cells are fully swollen with water. Try to take them first thing in the morning, preferably on a dull day. Water them well the day before if they showing any signs of water stress.

Harvesting cutting material

  • Avoid soft tip growth – it wilts quickly, doesn’t root readily and produces weak plants.
  • Avoid thin, weak growth and older, woody growth
  • Select strong, actively-growing shoots which are still flexible but will snap when bent sharply.
Close up of person with secateurs taking cutting

Remove cutting material just above a node or leaf joint
Image: Annelise Brilli

  • Look for non-flowering side shoots. If this isn’t possible, always remove the flower buds.
  • When you are harvesting cutting material, cut just above a leaf node. This will leave the original plant tidy without any stubs which will die back. The material should have at least two leaf joints and be longer than the final cutting, which will be trimmed back just before insertion.
    Potting bench with plastic bag full of cuttings, penknife and secateurs

    Collecting cuttings in a plastic bag will protect them from moisture loss
    Image: Annelise Brilli

  • Immediately place the cuttings in a plastic bag with a label
  • Ideally trim and pot up cuttings straight away. If there is a delay, they can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Chilling cutting material assists its survival and rooting success. 

Inserting cuttings & aftercare

Close up of hands mixing 50:50 mix of perlite and potting compost

Using perlite in your cutting mix allows free drainage and good aeration which helps to prevent cuttings from rotting off
Image: Annelise Brilli

  • Prepare pots of compost with a freely draining medium – I recommend a 50:50 mix of perlite and peat free compost.
  • Trim the cuttings with a sharp knife or secateurs just below a node. The cutting can be anything from 5cm-10cm long and should have two or more leaf joints or nodes.
    Close up of gardening removing leaves from bottom of cutting

    Removing the bottom leaves reduces water loss and allows easy insertion of the cutting
    Image: Annelise Brilli

  • Remove the leaves from the bottom of the cutting.
  • Salvias don’t require rooting hormones as they root very easily
    Close up of gardener inserting cuttings

    Insert cuttings as soon as possible after collecting them
    Image: Annelise Brilli

  • Insert several cuttings into each pot, label and date them
  • Water them well
    Potting bench with cuttings in sealed polythene bag

    Create a humid environment by placing the pot of cuttings in a sealed polythene bag
    Image: Annelise Brilli

  • Place the cuttings inside a clear, polythene bag
  • Put the cutting somewhere in good light in a cool environment – not in direct sun or a hot, greenhouse. Adequate shading is essential during summer.
  • Check the cuttings regularly for moisture levels and to remove any dead leaves. Ventilate them if fungal growth is occurring.
  • Cuttings should root in 3-4 weeks.
  • When they are well rooted transfer them into individual pots with good quality peat-free compost. Grow on in frost-free conditions over winter, ready for planting out next spring.

Taking cuttings of salvias will rejuvenate your stocks with young vigorous plants and because they root so easily you’ll have plenty to give to friends too. Kickstart your collection by browsing our salvia plants online.

 

 

The Best Plants for July

July border in pink and magenta colour scheme

Star plants in July: Eupatorium atropurpureum (back), Echinacea purpurea (left), Veronicastrum virginicum (centre), Phlox paniculata (right)
Image: Canva

After June’s spurt of fresh foliage and flowers, the heat of July can begin to draw some of the vigour out of displays. Here are 5 reliable perennials which will continue to reward throughout this month.

Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’

close up of Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer' flowers, trumpet shaped, burnt orange outer petals and yellow inside

Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’
Image: Thompson & Morgan

June is largely dominated by soft pastel colours but come July the garden palette begins to warm up. Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ delivers a tropical punch with its fruity, burnt orange and yellow blooms set against bronze foliage. This is one of those ‘firework’ plants which has real impact in borders and containers. It certainly earns its place as it keeps blooming through to October and the flowers last for ages in a vase.

  • Height & Spread: 75cm (30″) x 60cm (24″).
  • Growing conditions: fertile soil in a warm, sunny spot
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Flowering season: Early summer until the first frosts

Echinacea ‘Rubinstern’

Close up of Echinacea 'Rubinstern' with pink ray florets and prominent, orangey-brown central cone

Echinacea ‘Rubinstern’ Image: Canva

Coneflowers are plants with real presence. They stand sturdily upright on unbranching stems which don’t require staking. The flowers have a pleasingly definite shape, each one crowned with a fat, spiny cone. Their strong silhouette combines well with ornamental grasses. ‘Rubinstern’ is one of the best selections, with a rich pink colour.

  • Height & Spread: 90cm (36″) x 50cm (20″).
  • Growing conditions: A sunny border in any freely draining soil which does not get waterlogged in the winter
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Flowering season: July to August

Diascia ‘Hopleys’

Close up of pink flowers with red eye of Diascia 'Hopleys'

Diascia ‘Hopleys’
Image: Canva

This long flowering perennial is much underused for such a rewarding plant. All summer long, Diascia ‘Hopleys’ produces tall clouds of small, dusky pink flowers which work beautifully in the middle of a sunny, well-drained border or as a free-flowering container feature.

  • Height & Spread: 90cm (36”) x 50cm (20”).
  • Growing conditions: Full sun and well draining soil
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Flowering season: May to October

Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’

Group of 'Totally Tangerine' flowers - single apricot blooms with ruffled centres

Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’
Image: Thompson & Morgan

This is a dahlia with real class and one of my favourites. The apricot to pink blooms of ‘Totally Tangerine’ have a distinctive luminosity in the evening sun and unlike some of the more garish dahlias, it’s a colour which works harmoniously in borders alongside other herbaceous perennials. It’s also sturdy and well branching and so makes a great specimen for a large container– try it with a contrasting violet salvia such as ‘Amistad’ surrounded by some airy Panicum elegans ‘Sprinkles’.

  • Height & Spread: : 80cm (24″ to 32″) x 45cm (18″)
  • Growing conditions: Full sun and freely draining soil
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Flowering season: July to November

Phlox ‘Bright Eyes’

Close up of lilac-pink Phlox flowers with bright pink eyes

Phlox ‘Bright Eyes’
Image: Shutterstock

Phlox paint bold blocks of colour in a border like no other perennial, their domed panicles forming soft duvets of pinks and violets, providing a dreamy backdrop to other more structural perennials. Their other asset is fragrance – billowing clouds of sweet perfume which float across the summer garden. ‘Bright Eyes’ forms gorgeous drifts of pink in the middle and back of borders, each flower picked out with a darker pink eye.

  • Height & Spread:  80cm (31″) x 60cm (24″).
  • Growing conditions: Moist, fertile soil, in full sun or partial shade – the flowers lasting longer if given some shade. Good for clay soils.
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Flowering season: July-August

If Annelise’s July favourites have inspired you, check out our summer flowers hub page for more great ideas for brightening up your garden this summer. For more plants which are looking fabulous this month, see Looking Good on The Nursery. 

Jobs to do in the garden in July

Colourful double herbaceous border containing dahlias, echinacea, heleniums, echinops and ornamental grasses with a grass path in between

With borders in full swing, make sure you put your feet up and enjoy them! Image: Dreamstime

Phew! It’s July. Borders are at their peak, but growth is slowing down so you should have time to put your feet up and take some garden notes. Observe what has and hasn’t worked, plants which need dividing and gaps which need filling. Then, after rousing from your recliner to crack on with the ‘Hampton Court Hack’, reward yourself by compiling a greedy wish list of your must-have plants and seeds for next year.

 

Hanging Baskets and containers

Woman watering a hanging basket

Keep watering and feeding hanging baskets
Image: Canva

  • In the July heat, hanging baskets and containers can dry out extremely quickly and may even need watering twice a day. Even if it rains, water often barely penetrates due to the thick mass of roots and umbrella of foliage cover so they will need a good soaking by hand.
  • The constant watering will flush away nutrients, so it’s important to keep on applying a weekly high-potash feed.
  • Keep on deadheading to stimulate new blooms. Pansies and petunias can begin to look straggly at this time of year, so rather than fiddling about trying to deadhead individual flowers shear them back and feed them to promote a flush of new growth and later flowers.

 

Hampton Court Hack

close up of two clumps of nepeta in garden border which have been cut down to ground level

This Nepeta (catmint) has been sheared down to the ground and given the ‘Hampton Court Hack’
Image: Annelise Brilli

  • By early July, some of the perennials which flowered earlier can look a bit tired. It’s time to undertake the ‘Hampton Court Hack’, so called because it coincides with the Hampton Court Flower Show. Try it out on Alchemilla mollis, straggly pansies and violas, astrantias, catmint (Nepeta), and hardy geraniums. Simply shear them right down to the ground, followed by a good soak and you’ll be rewarded with fresh new foliage and possibly a second flush of flowers.
  • You can also cut back the all flowered stems of lupins, delphiniums and aquilegias (if you don’t want them to self seed).

 

Bearded iris

Gardener digging up a clump of iris rhizomes ready for dividing

Divide congested irises this month after they have finished flowering
Image: Dreamstime

  • Divide clumps of bearded iris if they are overgrown. Lift clumps and select the largest, healthiest rhizomes for replanting. Cut each fan of leaves to about 15cm (6”), then replant, firming them in well before watering.

 

Box Hedging

Low box hedge with brown defoliated leaves caused by box moth caterpillar

Characteristic defoliation on box hedges caused by box moth caterpillar
Image: Canva

  • Box tree moth caterpillar is now widespread and can cause severe damage, even death, very quickly. Use pheromone traps to monitor populations – they can have up to 4 generations each season.  Inspect your box for the caterpillar and either pick off the caterpillars or spray with a contact insecticide if necessary. If box caterpillar is becoming a severe problem in your area, it may be wise to consider alternatives such as yew hedging.

 

Prune Flowering Shrubs

Close up of white Philadelphus flowers against a blue sky

Early flowering shrubs such as this Philadelphus are pruned this month
Image: Canva

  • Cut back the flowered growth on shrubs that bloom in early summer including Philadelphus, Weigela and Deutzia. Prune them back to strong young shoots lower down. Also remove up to a fifth of the oldest stems to near the base, rejuvenating your shrub by promoting the growth of new, young shoots.
  • After flowering give Helianthemums an all-over trim with a pair of shears, reducing them to neat hummocks which are about 15cm high (6”). This needs to be done every year to promote compact, ground hugging plants which are smothered in flowers.
  • With most other Mediterranean shrubs you need to be more cautious – neither Cistus purpureus or Phlomis fruticosa will tolerate much pruning – but to keep them compact you can lightly trim over the soft green shoots without going into the older, hard wood.

 

Watering new plants

Keep watering newly planted trees, shrubs and young plants whilst they are still getting established.

Propagation

Close up of hand holding a lavender cutting

Take lavender cuttings now
Image: Canva

  • Take cuttings from tender plants such as salvias, and Mediterranean herbs like lavender, rosemary and sage, selecting non-flowering stems from the current season’s growth.
  • From now until early autumn, take semi-ripe cuttings from hardy climbers, and evergreen shrubs and hedging plants, selecting growth that has begun to harden at the base.
  • Continue to sow biennials, including flowers for cutting such as wallflowers and Lunaria.
  • Transplant seedlings of biennials sown earlier in the year and give them a good water. Continue to water them regularly.

 

Summer prune wisteria

Close up of flower racemes of a wisteria

All wisterias require pruning twice a year, once in summer and again in winter
Image: Canva

  • In warm areas of the UK leave this job until August to reduce the amount of regrowth. In cold climates cut back the long whippy shoots now, pruning them back to about five leaves.

 

Greenhouse

Close up of yellow sticky card covered in insects hanging in greenhouse

Pest populations multiply rapidly in hot greenhouses
Image: Canva

  • Greenhouse plants are vulnerable to scorch and heat stress, so open all the vents and doors, use shading and damp down regularly.
  • Put up yellow sticky cards to monitor pests and keep your eye out for infestations of red spider mite, whitefly, mealy bug and scale insects
  • Greenhouse debris can harbour pests and diseases so sweep up any dead leaves and remove dead plants promptly.

 

Roses

Close up of person holding secateurs about to prune a rose branch

Prune once flowering shrub roses after blooming
Image: Canva

  • Keep deadheading your roses, cutting back faded flowers to the first leaf behind the flower.
  • Pick off any leaves affected by blackspot or rust
  • Lightly prune old fashioned, once-flowering shrub roses, ensuring that you don’t spoil their arching habit. Remove any dead, diseased or damaged growth. If there is congested old wood in the centre, remove one or two of these older stems.
  • After flowering, prune back any unwanted or congested growth on rambling roses, tying in new replacement shoots. Prune back the remaining side shoots by two thirds.
  • Keep an eye out for suckers produced below the grafting point – they are usually lighter in colour with green stems and a different number of leaflets. Rather than cutting them, dig down to expose their origin and pull the suckers off.

 

Lawns

Close up of wildflower patch with hawkweeds and oxeye daisies

Boost insect populations by letting some wildflowers bloom in the lawn
Image: Canva

  • Help save pollinators and let it grow high in July! Relaxing your mowing regime and setting the blades higher will not only promote stronger growth which is more resilient to drought but will also permit short plants like daisies to flower. See Rewilding the Lawn for more information.
  • If it’s hot and dry the lawn may start to look brown but resist the temptation to splurge water on it as it will simply be wasted through evaporation. Trust that underground roots will enable the grass to recover once rainfall arrives.
  • Apply your last lawn feed at the beginning of this month. Leave it any later and you will promote soft green growth in the autumn which will be vulnerable to pests and winter cold.

Seed Collecting

Close up of dried legume pods which have been opened and seed collected in a tub

Collecting seeds is a fun and economical way of growing plants
Image: Canva

  • Go around your garden (and perhaps your neighbours!) collecting your favourite seeds from hardy annuals and biennials such as poppies, nigella, and foxgloves. Save the little sachets of silica gel which you find in numerous products and place these in an air tight container with your seeds to keep them dry.

 

Pond

close up of dried out pond with exposed butyl liner

If your pond dries out not only will it threaten the survival of pond creatures but it will also expose the liner to damaging UV rays
Image: Canva

  • Ponds can quickly dry up in hot weather so keep it topped up with collected rainwater. If rainwater isn’t available, fill up an empty water butt with tap water and leave it for 24 hours, during which time the chlorine will evaporate.

 

Broccoli and calabrese masterclass: best expert content

Organic Broccoli 'Green Sprouting' (Calabrese) from Thompson & Morgan

Calabrese broccoli is a nutritious summer crop
Image: Organic Broccoli ‘Green Sprouting’ (Calabrese) from Thompson & Morgan

Growing your own vitamin-packed calabrese and sprouting broccoli is easier than you might think. To help you succeed, we’ve rounded up some top tips on sowing, planting, feeding and harvesting your broccoli. Produced by independent garden bloggers and experienced vegetable growers, these nuggets of wisdom will ensure you get the most from your crops. 

Ready to get started? Visit our online range of brassica & leafy green seeds to check out our new hybrid and classic broccoli varieties. And if you’re short for time, simply order a few brassica & leafy green plants to get a bit of a head start.

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