Now that we have sweltered through a few 40 degree blistering days (yes, it gets hot in South Gippsland!) my garden is looking, ahem, a little ‘worn’. Weary, tired, scorched, half-dead…to be perfectly honest. Aren’t we all by the end of January?! Not to mention the three weeks we have had away over Christmas/January, the state of the Brindabella garden currently is actually…embarrassing! So this weekend we have set aside to whip her back into shape, it really shouldn’t take long, and this blog post was actually more timely in December and now it’s February somehow, but bookmark it, save it, pin it and you can refer back every Summer. Even throughout the warmest of days there is still much to do in to the garden, perhaps not the amount as our busy beaver Autumn antics or Spring buzzing, but in the cool mornings and warm evenings with daylights savings is some of my favourite times to get stuck into the garden…
So, here is what I like to potter about and do throughout December/January/February in the garden. It is a pretty loose system though, as obviously these are some busy times with Christmas and holidays and not being home often – and sometimes it’s just too dang hot! Luckily there’s really not a whole lot that needs doing throughout Summer, so you’re off the hook a fair bit. Once the cool break of Autumn arrives I really like to get cracking in the garden, you can read my Autumn garden to do list here.
Summer Garden To Do List
- Mulch, mulch, mulch – and when in doubt, mulch some more! I like to make sure all of our trees and garden beds are well mulched going into Summer, to keep that vital moisture in the soil and close to my plants roots. It’s a nice little bed for your plants to live in through the warmer months. Trust me, keep the mulch up and they will thank you for it. Top it up, spread it around. Mulch!
- Deadhead roses – I like to walk past my rose garden every day or so and snip off the spent or wilted flowers, this encourages new growth even through the hot Summer. You will have roses budding well into Autumn if you regularly dead head. I get very twitchy fingers when I see wilted or dead roses on bushes – snip snip! I do not mean prune your roses hard in Summer, save that for Winter when I give them a very good haircut, but just dead heading the flowers that have passed their use by can be hugely beneficial. Some experts say to cut off two buds below the wilted flower…but I struggle to cut off a perfectly good bud! Apparently you will be repaid for your courage in spades, but I’m always too chicken to actually do it – ha! Some of my floribunda roses are tricky to deadhead also as they have a cluster head of roses.
- Go easy on your lawns – try and keep your lawns longer and cut less frequently throughout Summer. They will only brown off quicker and struggle to recover from the heat if you cut too short of regularly, so lift those blades higher and grab a beer, not the mower.
- Prune…gently – easy does it with the pruning, because your plants still need a lot of energy and sustenance to get through those real scorchers. Anything that finishes their Spring flowering can start to look a little straggly in Summer though, so a light haircut is permitted. Light! Our lavender and scabiosa mainly are what I trim slightly during Summer, just enough to tidy them up but not enough to burn their socks off should we get some more hot days.
- Water liberally – obviously to get through those hot days your garden is going to need a lot of water. I don’t tend to water the garden on any days (especially throughout the year outside of Summer) unless it gets above about 30 degrees. Then I’ll throw some water around with the hose. Generally I don’t want a lot of our plants to get accustomed to too much water. I have never watered my roses – they don’t need it! Someone once told me this about roses, and I’ve never had a problem with them since. Treat ’em mean, keep ’em…alive?! Don’t water in the heat of the day though, try to water in the morning rather than the evening as it tends to be warmer still at night and can invite mildew or fungal diseases into your garden.
- Weeeeeeeeeds – funnily enough during Spring whilst everything is growing…so too do the weeds – damn them! Then come Summer once the Spring flowers have wilted, the weeds remain. So I find in Summer weeding is especially pertinent as they are so obvious, making the garden untidy and my husband lose sleep at night because of them.
- Look after the pots – potted plants dry out very quickly and need some extra care throughout Summer. This year I finally lost my struggling kaffir lime tree which was in a big pot. I think people really underestimate how dried out plants get in pots! Don’t forget them. The same goes for any indoor plants, although I am no expert when it comes to them, give them a liberal squirt with the hose and some outside ‘free time’.
- Look after yourself too – try not to do too much gardening during the heat of the day. I am never in the garden without my trusty broad brimmed ‘garden hat’ and try to wear longer sleeved light cotton shirts – that Aussie sun is a harsh mistress, many a gardener before us has spent far too many Sunday’s in the sun and paid the price. So slip slop slap, and don’t forget the sunscreen on the backs of your hands!
- Last but not least – enjoy the hydrangeas! If you, like me, are hydrangea obsessed and have several plants dotted about the garden…breathe them in (not that they’re overly perfumed), but hydrangea season in my garden is one of my favourites times, which I try to savour.
And that’s it! See, told you, easy peasy lemon squeezey. Hardly much to do at all throughout Summer, even the garden is in holiday mode! Remember, these garden to-do list’s I am just talking about our ‘general’ garden, not our veggie patch – that is a whoooole other beast that needs tackling! Also, this is just what I do in our garden…with what we have…I don’t have a lot of plants and trees which others do, so it’s all about the hydrangeas and roses and lavender and camellias and emu bush and Mexican orange bush and westringias around here. But this weekend if you’re looking for me, you know where I’ll be: lurking twitchy-hands near the wilted roses, not mowing the lawns but definitely giving the lavender an ever so slight haircut…
Happy Summer gardening!