Sue Sargeant, Passionate Gardener writes Blooming Gardens in SW France
Blooming Gardens in SW France
Coping with the weather, especially the heat in summer, is one of the things that makes gardening really interesting and very rewarding. Sue Sargeant tells us how to keep blooming through summer.
There’s no doubt that this year’s weather has posed a few challenges in the garden. Here in this part of France Spring came early and gave an opportunity to sow seeds in mid-February but a cold spell in March slowed the process down. A sharp frost in early May found us searching for fleece to protect our plants which thankfully all survived.
There’s no doubt that this year’s weather has posed a few challenges in the garden, especially for those who want blooming gardens in SW France.
Here in this part of France Spring came early and gave an opportunity to sow seeds in mid-February but a cold spell in March slowed the process down. A sharp frost in early May found us searching for fleece to protect our plants which thankfully all survived.
It is almost taken for granted that July and August are hot and dry so planting with this in mind is a must. Here are a few tips to give you the best chance of hanging onto your summer blooms.
DEAD HEADING will extend the flowering period for most perennials, Roses and Geraniums. Also, cut back early flowering hardy Geraniums to encourage repeat flowering.
Some shrubs can show signs of stress by WILTING, particularly if they have soft green leaves that have put on a lot of early spring growth. Reduce the size of the shrub by trimming some of the branches. This will improve the overall performance of the shrub in dry conditions.
Apply a MULCH around the base of shrubs, either after watering or after rainfall.
Try to avoid PLANTING shrubs in the summer months. It’s better to plant in spring and autumn when the roots will establish much better in cool, wet soil.
Move CONTAINERS to a shady corner for respite from the sun and group together for watering, especially if you are away from home for a few days.
Whilst enjoying your blooming gardens in SW France during the summer months, it can be hard to become motivated to plan for next year, but this is a perfect time. Take a look around the garden and see what is looking good and working well for you.
For instance, which shrubs should be moved because they have grown too tall? It’s time to divide the Iris if they have stopped flowering. (These should be divided every three years.) It’s also time to order spring flowering bulbs. Growers do run out of stock so place your order online for autumn delivery.
Bare root Roses are best planted in November and/or December. However, it’s a good idea to see them in full bloom so visit gardens and nurseries during the summer to see them at their best. Many specialists will offer advice on the best Roses for our climate. I have found the paler shades more suitable for full sun and, after around three years of settling in, they are a great addition to the garden.
When thinking about planting for autumn colour, Nerines are a wonderful addition to the garden, either in containers or in the ground. Remember to leave the tip of the bulb slightly above the soil and plant in full sun. The perennial Asters and Sedum Autumn glory are another welcome arrival in the autumn garden.
Lagerstroemia Trees are the most wonderful tree for the summer. Every year I plan to buy one but never seem to do it. The flowers are at their best in July and August but the bark is very tactile all year round. You will see them in shades of pink, white and mauve in many public spaces in France.
Now is the time to collect seeds from Perennials such as Gaura, Sissirynchium and other varieties of summer flowering plants for next year. You can sow Gaura in summer and over-winter the seedlings for planting out in spring.
Make sure you have plenty of home-made compost for autumn by turning your heap and keeping it wet to ensure it is ready to mulch your beds in October.
As the birds are no longer nesting, now is also a good time to shape hedges, and let more light into established hedges to promote new young growth.
Captions l to r: Perennial Asters brighten a corner, plant Nerines for autumn colour, the mid-summer flowering tree Lagerstroemia
We send our congratulations to Sue for her Open Garden day on 5 May which was a huge success and raised €600 for charity, despite the weather which was very cold for the time of year. Her garden is now open all year by appointment, for details go to www.opengardens.eu, reference 180326.
First published in the July/August 2019 issue of The Local Buzz.
Images: Sue Sargeant and Shutterstock