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Great Haseley and District Horticultural Society - July 2017

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We have just returned from a short walking holiday in Burgundy to find the UK in the midst of a heatwave with very high temperatures.

  We rarely go away in summer because the garden is so demanding, but close friends wanted to do this walking holiday with us because the men, who are old school friends, walked Hadrian’s Wall last spring in mostly pouring rain and around 30 miles a day. The women decided that was too much, so the plan to enjoy sun with shorter walking was hatched.  Burgundy was also in the middle of a heat wave, but after some rain it actually felt cooler there than here.

Much of our walking was through vineyards and countryside. The wild flowers were spectacular with masses of orchids which we enjoyed with slightly less envy because, just before we left Great Milton, my other half had spotted our first orchid in the meadow when he nearly mowed it off; we were so excited about it and protected it with a chicken wire cage so it wasn’t munched by the first passing deer.  Deer are a real problem for gardens around here as they are particularly fond of flowers especially roses, but seem to be frightened off when the alpacas are in residence.  The knock-on effect has been that Tulips have reappeared in the garden which I planted more than 20 years ago before I discovered they got eaten.  I had always assumed the culprits were rabbits, but that cannot be the case as we still have rabbits in the garden with the alpacas so it must be that deer are responsible.

Following the fete, there were far fewer plants in pots and Sally kindly agreed to water in our absence.  Little did she know how hard that task would be in the heat!  A splendid job was done and pretty much everything survived for which I am very grateful.  I really will put less in pots next year.  I say that every year, but I get tempted in garden centres and before I know where I am the pots are back again.  This is not helped by each year already having plants growing on for the fete next year.

Watering must continue each day until we get some decent rain, but even then, pots of bedding and hanging baskets will require daily watering.  If your pots do dry out completely you need to put them in trays and allow them to soak up water to re-saturate the compost; water poured on top will simply run through if there is no tray to provide a reservoir.  It is important to remove the pots when it rains or the roots will become waterlogged and the plants will suffer.  The appearance may suggest they are wilting and short of water; the application of yet more water may well result in death.  However, death in the garden is always an opportunity to acquire yet another plant!

Do keep vegetables well-watered especially peas and beans when they are flowering and setting pods.  The addition of good compost (preferably home-made which takes longer to rot down than shop bought) before any planting helps the soil maintain moisture and nutrients.  However, too much water can be a bad thing as we have found with our asparagus bed which is on the flood plain and not raised enough.  I fear we will need to start again….

Liz Moyses


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