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Top garden tips from the head gardener

Estate – 14.07.17


Summer, it’s truly the time to be outside and enjoying our garden to its full potential! We had a sit down with Phil, the Head Gardener at Combermere Abbey, to find out some of his pearls of wisdom when it comes to gardening in the summer season.

To keep aphid pests and blackspot diseases at bay from your roses, Phil recommends spraying your roses with ‘Rose Clear’. This can be purchased from stores such as Homebase, Sainsbury’s or Wilko. Phil comments on the pros of using an insecticide: “It’s all very well religiously dead heading your roses but if they’re overrun with pests then all your hard work will go to waste! Make sure you start spraying when the first buds show and repeat every four weeks.”

When dead heading your roses and keeping them healthy, Phil suggests doing it continually throughout the season to encourage new flower buds, plus you’ll be able to clear away the messy petals underneath.

Phil simplifies the daunting task of looking after wisteria, “To keep your wisteria in check, a summer pruning will be required but it’s not as complicated as it seems. Make sure to cut back the long new side growth to five or six buds and then tie in any lengths that you may require for structure of the plant. You should then be set up until the winter pruning in late January or early February.”

If you own any trained apple and pear trees, whether they are espalier, cordon or fan-trained, Phil recommends you prune back this year’s side growth to three leaves this summer.  With trained stone fruits such as apricots, plums and peaches it is the exact same process as apples and pears.

Phil comments on veg garden upkeep, “Throughout the summer season it is important to continue to ‘earth up’ potatoes to keep the tubers from being in contact with direct sunlight and your chosen salad plant seeds should be gradually sown to extend your crop later into the season.”

With winter sown broad beans and mangetout, these need to be harvested now and if you’re looking to have an autumn harvest for vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, pak choi, radish and kohl rabi, now is the time to direct sow the seeds. Phil also advises the regular watering of tomatoes throughout the season as well as a weekly feed.

“If you’re wanting to benefit from French beans, runner beans and peas in your future recipes, July is your last chance to directly seed sow so don’t miss out.” Some sound advice from the gardening guru!

General maintenance of your garden should include weeding to keep your flower beds not only looking tidy but also preventing valuable nutrients being taken away from your plants. Clearing away debris, such as leaves or dropped flowers restricts diseases being created or spreading.  It will also interrupt any pests that are wanting to settle into your flower beds!

Phil shares his top tip for watering potted or containerised plants: “Mixing water retaining gel into the compost at the beginning of the season will reduced the amount of water required and it’s also less time consuming.  We have found our potted bedding plants have been much more floriferous and healthy this season for using the product this year”

When cutting your lawn, Phil warns not to cut it too low as this could encourage weeds and moss to grow in your lawn. You can’t create a bowling green lawn with standard grass varieties, so raising the cut just one notch will give you a stronger and less stressed lawn. Give your lawn extra strength with a summer feed (high in nitrogen) to give its green colour a boost.

We hope that Phil’s top tips for making the most of your garden will help bring some summer joy! If you’ve learnt something new and your garden has benefitted, we’d love to see your photos. Send them in to our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages and we’ll share our favourites.