Gill's Gardening Notes for
None of us will forget the summer of 2018 in hurry, will we? It’s been a year of great contrasts, from the dismal wet spring to the astonishing summer. Inevitably there have been winners and losers in most gardens. Ours is no exception.
First the good news. Last September we planted several rows of onion sets. Protected through the winter by a permeable cloche they grew into sturdy little plants. The cloches were removed in spring and the well established onions grew quickly to a good size, loving the warm sunshine. I think they will store well. We will definitely be planting more onion sets this autumn rather than next spring.
Another success has been our container-grown dahlias. They have thrived in the hot sunny weather (well they come from Mexico so I guess they felt at home). We have fed them generously and with regular dead-heading are being rewarded with arms full of gorgeous blooms. We hope for a repeat performance next year so, at the first frost the rhizomes will be lifted, dried and stored in a frost-free place until spring when we’ll plant them up again.
Now for the bad news! Our failures include some bare rooted raspberries planted in late April. Bare rooted plants should really be planted in winter or early spring, before growth starts, so probably these raspberries never stood a chance. Sadly they all died within a couple of months of planting.
Another disappointment has been the poor performance of our blueberry bushes, growing in raised beds. In May they were covered in blossom but, before the crop could ripen, the bushes shed most of the fruit, presumably because of the heat and heavy dry soil. We plan to lift them this autumn and replant in containers filled with ericaceous compost. The containers can be moved into semi- shade if we happen to have another scorcher next year.
And lastly, a little more good news. We have come up with an effective and environmentally friendly way of defeating lily beetles, those little red pests that attack our lilies in early summer. We plant our lilies in large pots and, at the time of planting, we push 3 or 4 canes into the soil, each a little longer than the expected eventual height of the lilies. When the lilies start to grow we cover each pot with a horticultural fleece bag (quickly made on a sewing machine from a length of fleece). The lilies grow up under cover of the fleece and we remove the bags just before the lilies start to flower. We have done this for the last three years with great success.