Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

LET THEM DRINK ... WATER; Even the Most Devoted Gardener Needs a Holiday. the Trick Is Knowing How to Make Your Plants Survive

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

LET THEM DRINK ... WATER; Even the Most Devoted Gardener Needs a Holiday. the Trick Is Knowing How to Make Your Plants Survive

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

VIGILANT gardeners do not leave their plots all summer but only take a holiday come October. The rest of us leave our gardens to take their chances with the weather and hopefully an obliging neighbour who might wield a watering can. If you want no nasty surprises on your return, my advice is to prepare your garden before you leave.

Plan your pots accordingly. Once it dries out, multi-purpose soilless compost is a nightmare to re-wet, so if you're planting up containers, mix 50/50 with John Innes soil-based compost to add some holding power. Before you go, move all your containers to a shady, sheltered spot on the patio and keep them close together, so that you create a mini-microclimate for them, as well as make watering duty easier. Give them a good long drink and liquid fertiliser feed before you go, and mulch bare compost with grit, gravel, shells or pebbles that help prevent compost from drying out.

Be tough and deadhead all but the newest, freshest flowers so the plant can conserve its strength. Consider potting up small, individual plants into larger containers to increase chances of survival. Even the closest friendship is tested when a plant carer is faced with hun-dredof petunia flowers that need deadheading and watering every five minutes to prevent wilting, and worse.

Pelargoniums, gazanias, lantanas and osteospermums -- those cheerful South African daisies -- will keep going through a low-water regime for a week or two. Succulents, cacti and houseleeks will thrive on neglect. Now could be the moment to buy three agaves, pot them into tall zinc containers, range them in a row, and congratulate yourself on a disciplined and stylish display that needs no maintenance whatsoever.

Lawns can be left, and benefit from their own holiday away from the twiceweekly mow. Longer grass is a prettier, prairie-type sight to return to than the usual scalped lawn that, come July, is starting to turn a paler shade of straw. Irrigation systems can be a godsend if they behave -- and a disaster if they don't. Horror stories abound among garden designers, such as the 500 newly-planted lavender bushes in the parterre of a Hampstead front garden that promptly died when the gardener left in charge forgot to flick a switch. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.