Now you can forget all about those chilly, dreary and rainy days. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and there's plenty to do in the garden again - outdoors in the beautiful weather. It's lovely! It is time to get started! And once the work is done, you can relax and enjoy summer on the patio...
TIME TO TRIM THE BOX TREE
You can let your imagination run wild. Just use your skills and cut your box tree in the shape of a heart, a hedgehog, an elephant or whatever you fancy. Anything is possible. If you'd rather stick to something simpler, try a pyramid or globe. It's the perfect time for pruning. Note: the sharper the hedge trimmer, the easier it is to cut with. A battery-operated hedge trimmer can make the work much easier, especially if you want to cut larger hedges or designs. If you're a beginner and don't feel very confident doing it by eye, you can use a special template. These can be purchased in nurseries or ordered online. If you just want to make a handy frame for your flower bed, you can use some boards and string as guides to help you create a neat and tidy shape.
TIME TO DIVIDE THE BULBS
After a couple of years, daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses and pearl hyacinths form dense clumps of bulbs, and these compete with each other for water and nutrition. As a result, they bloom less and less. That's why it's a good idea to divide the clumps of spring-flowering bulbous plants. It's easiest to do it now. When the leaves have turned yellow and wilted, and the bulbs are barely absorbing any nutrition any more, then it's time to start: Using a gripper, gently lift the entire lump of bulbs out of the soil. Remove any dead plant parts or damaged bulbs. Distribute the healthy bulbs in suitable spots where they can make your garden more beautiful. They'll go straight back into the ground. First, however, make sure to loosen the soil. If you have too many bulbs: Wouldn't your neighbours be delighted to receive a gift of some flower bulbs?
PRUNE ROSES IN JUNE, TO PROLONG FLOWERING
It pays to remove dead flowers from your roses during the summer. It's called 'dead-heading' the roses. You should do this at least once a week, but ideally daily. By removing the wilted flowers, you stimulate the plant and prevent it from using its energy to form seeds and buds. Instead, it can grow new side shoots, and new flowers, again and again. Be sure to use sharp scissors when dead-heading your roses. This minimises the risk of injury. Cut below the withered rose, just above the first pair of leaves. In late summer, you can leave the dead flowers on the rose. These will form beautiful bright red rose hips. This has several advantages: Firstly, rose hips brighten up autumn with their magical colour, and secondly, they're an important source of nutrition for winter birds.
IN JUNE, IT'S TIME TO TAKE CARE OF THE PLANTS STANDING IN OUTDOOR POTS
Even the plants that stand in pots in the garden now need attention: Do they have enough water and nutrition? Are they happy where they are? Does every plant have a large enough pot? These are questions that need to be answered. After all, potted plants don't all thrive in the same place. Brazilian jasmine, oleander and citrus plants love to have a warm and sunny spot. Hydrangea, fuchsia, camellia and gardenia, on the other hand, prefer things a little cooler and more shady. You should give your potted plants long-acting fertiliser now, so that they don't lack nutrients during the summer. If that's not enough, and they begin to flower less, then in the summer you can top up with liquid fertiliser. Note: never fertilise when the roots are dry or the plant has wilted after a dry spell. Mix your liquid fertiliser with water and only then water plants with it, on already moist soil. If it's been raining for several days, it's important to check the pots and any saucers under them. Pour off excess water so that the roots don't rot. If there's a risk of a thunderstorm: Try placing the large pots in a sheltered corner, or anchoring them with hooks and ropes.
PREPARING FOR NEXT YEAR: SOW BIENNIAL PLANTS NOW
Biennial plants such as foxglove, forget-me-nots and aquilegia grow rapidly in their first season, forming strong roots and lush green leaves, and will then bloom the following year. For most of these plants, this means that they germinate and grow during the summer, then rest during the winter, and then have a new growth spurt. In the following spring and summer, they will enrich your garden with their wonderfully beautiful flowers. In order for that to happen, you should sow them now - either by pre-growing them in a seed tray, or by sowing them in a container or flower bed. When they become large enough, they can be transplanted into pots outdoors. There they can continue to grow over the summer until in the fall when you can plant them in a suitable spot in your flowerbed.
FROM THE BALCONY TO THE FLOWER BED - TIME TO REPLANT!
Perennials can brighten up your balcony, terrace or home entrance as house-plants. If, however, your perennials have flourished - the pot might be a bit too small now. This is easy to spot, among other clues, when the roots peep out through the drainage hole. If you lift the perennial out of the pot, you can also check if the roots are growing in a spiral around the lump of soil. It's time for replanting! Before you take the perennial out into the garden, however, you should trim the roots slightly with a sharp knife. Then you can plant out the entire perennial in the flowerbed. Feel free to pamper it with some fresh compost. After all, the perennial has to get used to its new spot quickly and that's easier if it has some good quality fertiliser.
EARLY FLOWERING SHRUBS CAN BE PRUNED NOW
In spring and early summer, bushy plants such as mock orange (philadelphus), bilberry (Amelanchier canadensis) and weigela brighten up the garden with their magnificent flowers. In order for them to be as beautiful the following year, it's best to prune them after they have flowered. It's important to note that all early flowering shrubs develop their flowers on shoots that grew the previous summer. This means that if you prune the bushes now, then they still have plenty of time to grow, get new shoots and ripen before winter comes. This way they'll ready to bloom beautifully again next spring. Here's how to do it: Prune woody branches back hard. With branches that have flowers, cut them back to a fresh new shoot. Strong, woody branches should be pruned at ground level every three or four years. Never take more than a quarter of the bush at the same time. You can also use this method to bring a heavily overgrown bush back into the proper shape.
TIME TO MOW THE LAWN - OR NOT?
Many gardens are now buzzing with lawnmowers on the weekends. Naturally, we all want our lawns to look great. But does the entire lawn really have to be mown? It might be enough to just cut a path through and let the grass grow on either side of the path. You can also plant beautifully blooming spring bulbs and wildflowers nearest to the path. This can look amazing, and will make bees, butterflies and other animals very happy. Insects and other wild animals could find food and shelter there. This is another way you can contribute to the protection of animals and the environment. But even a summer meadow needs to be looked after: The first time it's cut should happen no earlier than the end of June. This allows bulbous plants to slowly wither away, so that their bulbs can gather strength for next year's flowering. The grass can then be mown again in the second half of August - after a few warm and dry days. Important points to consider: After each mowing, collect the grass clippings to top up your compost. This prevents the grass clippings from adding unwanted nutrients to the soil, which would cause lush and powerful grass to take over and push out the flowers.