Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Come Home to Pretty Pots; Discover Ingenious Ways to Keep the Garden Thriving While You Are Away on Holiday

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Come Home to Pretty Pots; Discover Ingenious Ways to Keep the Garden Thriving While You Are Away on Holiday

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

WHO knows what your garden will go through while you are away on holiday torrential rain, perhaps, or a desert-like drought. Prepare for both before you leave if you don't want to return to a wasteland where only weeds survive.

Don't worry about the lawn. Even if the grass gets parched and brown, it will revive with the first rains. Your prized plants, however, may not, especially if you are away for more than a week.

Bedding geraniums pelargoniums will get by for several days in dry weather without watering and succulents need little or no watering at all, which is worth remembering for next year. For the rest, prepare for your absence by deadheading brutally after all, you won't be there to admire the display. Cut off the flowers that are both faded and in full bloom, at the base of the stem, so the plants can focus their energy on making new buds rather than running to seed.

Just before you leave, soak pots through and then mulch the surface with pea shingle to keep the compost moist for longer. They'll look better too. Move pots to the shade so that the compost is in less danger of drying out and plants are less stressed, and group pots together not only to make watering easier, but to create a moist mini microclimate.

Do a little maintenance now to save a lot of work later, or those dainty little bindweed twirls will be garlands of white trumpet flowers welcoming you back while they strangle your shrubs.

Weeds grow faster than garden plants, especially at this time of year, so eliminate the competition before it eliminates your prize perennials. Cut perennials back before you go, feed and water them well, and you will return to bushy, healthy plants with plenty of new shoots.

A garden guardian can be a godsend if you have a mass of containers, but if they are not green-fingered, you will need to explain that the plants will need watering even if it rains, as the rain won't penetrate the compost, especially if it is covered by a canopy of foliage.

It might seem obvious, but if you grow vegetables, tell the garden guardian to help themselves or at least pick the purple-podded mangetouts and snip the Japanese mustard so edibles don't go to seed and stop producing by your return. …

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