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of the summer garden The beauty by Peter Dean R

oses are the beautiful powerhouses of the summer garden. Overwhelmingly English,

they provide colour and perfume to any plot. From Mrs Jones’ garden on the high street to the grounds of Buckingham Palace, they all have a rose bed. Roses come in several forms. There are standards, which grow up to two metres high, hybrid teas, which are smaller but nonetheless statuesque, and rambling and climbing types, which grow along fences, walls and buildings.

Roses all like full sun. Whichever type you choose, you will not be disappointed by their splendid flowers at this time of year. And they are easy to grow. They will appreciate a mulch of well-rotted manure in spring, but apart from that they just romp away, doing what they do best - producing lovely blooms. Black spot is a common problem later in the summer, so, if the leaves get brown or black blotches on them, pick off the affected ones and put them in the Council green bin for industrial composting. You can buy roses in a range of colours and hues, including white, apricot, red, pink and yellow, according to the cultivar. Just enjoy their beauty and magnificent perfume. They are what summer was made for, and, to set off a rose bed, a nicely cut lawn will provide the perfect frame.

Other flowers that provide colour in 48 County Life

summer include foxgloves, lupins, marigolds, stocks and lilies. All of these lovely plants can be grown easily and require the minimum of care and attention. Marigolds also tolerate drought well, although they all provide bees and other insects with food while they go about their busy foraging lives. Philadelphus (mock orange) and

weigela are two shrubs that produce pink and white flowers now. They grow to about two metres in height, and, if fed manure in the spring and kept watered when rain is sparse, they will produce a mass of flowers; the mock orange with a distinct scent that won’t leave you disappointed.

For foliage, hostas are perfect. They have intense green or blue/green leaves that have ridges to channel raindrops to the centre of the plant. They need to be kept moist and do well in semi-shade, maybe near a pond. In summer, they shoot up flower spikes for extra interest. More flowers will form if the clump is fed with manure at the start of the season. Slugs like hosta leaves too, so you may get holes in them. Try putting grit around the base of the plant because these fleshy critters can’t stand the stony surface. If the damage is bad, you can remove the worst of the leaves and compost them, but leave some to enjoy because the plant will need the energy from its leaves, as they die back, for next year’s growth.

The vegetable plot is producing the

first crop of potatoes. First early spuds are delicious and are ready in June/July. Salad crops such as radish, lettuce, tomato and cucumber are staples - the two latter crops requiring heat from a greenhouse in order to really flourish. Beans produce flowers, which bees ‘trip’, and eventually pods form, which soon become ready to eat. Transplant runner beans at the start of June and then keep them watered until established. They will climb up wigwams of cane supports. Courgettes can also be planted out, now that the overnight frosts have passed. They, like the marrow and pumpkin, will probably get a dusting of white mildew on the leaves. This is generally not a problem, so don’t worry. The veg from them is still good to eat and is not harmful. Keep the plants watered and you will get a good crop. The more you cut the more you will get. Peas too will be ready now.

Herbs also love the sunshine and can

be grown on a windowsill or in a container. They add fragrance and freshness to food: minted potatoes, thyme with roast lamb, coriander in salads or Moroccan mint in iced drinks. Sitting in the summer sunshine, enjoying a meal or a cold beverage, is very pleasant. You can look out at your garden and be very satisfied with the toil you have put in. Has it been worth it? In most cases you will have to admit that it certainly has!

Follow Peter in every edition of County Life and plan ahead for each new season!

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