Tim began by explaining why he finds Astrantias to be an extremely useful summer perennial. They have a colour range from white to dark red, and the leaves may be variegated. They grow up to a maximum of 2 feet in height, are equally happy in sun or shade, and they flower for a long time. They are a good way of filling gaps in a border. In a dry spell they will flop, but will soon recover after rain. He then went on to explain his approach to planting out in summer in these simple steps:
- wait until the evening
- dig the hole.
- saturate the hole with water
- take the root ball out of its pot
- dunk it in a bucket of water
- hold it there until the bubbles stop coming up
- plant it.
Doing this in the evening gives it the night time to acclimatise. It is time to cut down many plants – Pulmonarias, Ladies Mantle, perennial geraniums, Oriental Poppies and Dicentra Spectabilis have mostly finished. But with some plants like Brunnera, Jack Frost and Pulmonarias you will be rewarded with a flush of new leaves. Apple and plum trees will need thinning soon. You need to thin quite hard to get a good crop next year (and maybe avoid boughs breaking due to the weight of the crop).
Tim warned of the dangers of blight, which can affect tomatoes and potatoes. His advice is to spray with bordeaux mixture in early July, and spray again after rain. Suckers round the base of trees whould be removed before they become a nuisance. Don’t prune them, it will promote further growth. Instead rip them off with a sharp spade or a grubbing axe.