For a beautiful summer in the garden

For a beautiful summer in the garden

Summer is always a tricky season for the garden, as periods of intense heat with associated droughts are increasingly felt in many regions. But don't worry about your lawn: it may often look like straw, but it will regain its greenness as soon as the rain comes. Only mow it once the grass is growing again, and set the blades of your lawn mower in a high position, because grass that is cut right back won't be as resistant to water shortages.

On balconies and patios, zinc pots are all the rage. But be careful: in full sunlight they retain the heat so much they can roast the roots! Water regularly and place them in partial shade if possible. Keep them flowering by applying fertiliser diluted with water once a fortnight or so.
'Deadhead' the flowers regularly. Plenty of plants, especially roses, will continue to bud all through the summer. If you are going away for several days, cut even the best flowers. Then, plants such as geraniums, for example, will form new flowers that you can enjoy on your return, rather than be greeted by wilted flowers that will have worn the plant out unnecessarily…

In the vegetable patch, watering is the key to success, especially where tomatoes are concerned. But don't get carried away with aromatic herbs. If you want to retain the flavours of thyme, rosemary and sage, you need to encourage the essential oils to concentrate in the foliage. Basil and mint, on the other hand, will suffer more when short of water. Regroup pots by type according to how much sun and water they need: this will make it easier to care for them correctly. Don't allow aromatic herbs to flower. Cut them regularly to stimulate the formation of new, tender and perfumed shoots.

As summer ends and autumn begins, the garden enjoys a new period of splendour. Simply get rid of dried up branches and yellow leaves to spruce up the appearance of the whole garden. Make this the occasion to redefine the borders with a grass trimmer, or simply with a well-sharpened spade. This is very effective at marking the outlines of the beds. If there are any gaps in your flower beds, plant seasonal specimens (small chrysanthemums, verbenas, ornamental grasses, etc.), which will put on a show until the arrival of the frost ... as long as you water them regularly. One interesting idea is to situate a large pot that's still in flower in the middle of the bed. At this time, it's often more worthwhile to focus the attention on a few key features of the garden, rather than favouring the entire garden, as in the spring. Indeed, an attractive garden is not easy to achieve after a demanding summer! But don't despair: soon, the autumn plants will awaken – asters, dahlias and Rudbeckia will take to the stage. If you don't have them, there's still time to install a few grasses.
Remember to jot down improvements you'd like to make during your gardening at the end of the year. It's easy to forget, but planting at the right time will make sure your garden and balcony are beautiful throughout all four seasons!

Caroline Géneau
VIKING garden-expert

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