Peter’s Gardening tips for late summer

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This years summer gardening can be described as challenging!   

June was so wet with cold nights and dull,  July virtually no rain in the the South, August more settled in the South but dreadful in the North and Scotland.

I have never know so much growth on trees, shrubs, hedges and herbaceous plants.  You need a machete to get into the garden and get back into the house or find your front door!

Have you ever seen so many slugs and snails, they seem to be in plague proportions? Here is a picture of slime trails disappearing up into a 50ft oak tree!


Summer Jobs to do

Hedge cutting – check for bird nests before cutting, greenfinches, goldfinches, blackbirds and thrushes still producing.

Grass cutting – Keep mower blades sharp for a crisp cut, raise the mower deck in this hot weather, keep grass longer better drought resistance.   Clear out old grass from under the mower deck, your mower will be more efficient, cut better and less clogging up.


Pruning – General rule of thumb is to prune after flowering,  Weigelia, choisya, deutzia, kolwitzia and Lavender to name a few.  A lot of Spring flowering shrubs have grown immensely, give these a trim as cutting back hard will remove next years flower buds on forsythias.

Old deciduous shrubs with knuckles of thick stems can be sawn out with a  wood pruning saw to ground level, loads of new stems will come from the base, don’t be frightened?

Climbing plants – or Triffids!

Wisteria cut off long thin stems back to 3-5 leaf buds creating spurs, next years flowers.  Refer to the RHS pruning of Wisteria on their website, or contact me via my website.

Climbing Roses – Rambles cut out old flowered stems completely.  DO NOT cut if new growth coming from the base, this is next years flower stems and needs tying in.  Coverage of this on Gardeners World was not satisfactory and misleading.  Dead head all old flowers and seed heads to encourage more flowering, tie in new stems.

Bush Roses – Remove all old flowers regularly, feed all roses with a Rose fertiliser or liquid feed as per packet instructions.  Roses are hungry feeders, so keep fed for more flowers and healthy plants.

Vegetables – Lift garlic and onions if you haven’t already.  Dry off really thoroughly – bake in the sun!  Keep sowing salad crops, autumns cress, lettuce, mustard, radish, salad leaves etc.  Protect cabbages, broccoli and sprouts from pigeons and cabbage white butterflies.

Look for seed potatoes to plant now to give you a crop for Christmas and the New Year, planted best in containers in the greenhouse.

Sow spring cabbage, cabbage greens, carrots, beetroot, chicory, endive, kohlrabi, pak choi, spinach, spring onion (winter hardy) and turnips, check out Kings Seeds and Marshalls for their seeds and plug plants.

Fruit – Summer pruning of fruit trees very important.  Plums, peaches, nectarines and cherries – anything with a stone in the fruit.  This allows more light to ripen the fruit, produces fruiting spurs and buds for next year, and also decongests the tree and makes picking fruit easier.  Remove criss-crossing branches and rubbing branches, and keep fed and watered regularly.  Keep on top of removing damaged fruit, rotting plums etc.

Also, reduce long growth on apples and pears back to 2 – 4 leaves, if in doubt refer to RHS Summer pruning of apples and pears either online or the RHS Pruning books.

Cut down summer fruited raspberry canes, tidy up strawberry plants, remove runner unless you are starting off new plants.

Wildlife – Birds


This has been a poor breeding season for many as a result of the wet June, those who bred later have faired better.

Keep bird feeders clean to prevent the spread of disease, throw away old food and wash and scrub bird baths, have several bird baths together with different depths for different varieties of birds, terracotta saucers work very well.  Keep topped up all the time and all sorts of wildlife will visit for a drink.

Enjoy your garden and the holidays,

Please leave your gardening questions for me to answer and I will do my best to come back to you.

Happy Gardening!


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Peter Mills

I love everything to do with natural history, wildlife, biodiversity and of course horticulture - basically the big outdoors. I grew up with very good teachers namely my parents and my French grandfather who was a superb grower of vegetables. At Hadlow College I studied a three year OND in Horticulture. I had a market stall selling plants. Went onto wholesaling house plants to florists and garden centres across southern England. In 1986 I joined Clandon Park Garden Centre as manager. Whilst there I started my career as a gardening radio presenter with the BBC Southern Counties Radio. This continued for 15 years, building up valuable contacts with the RHS Wisley, live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows etc. Since 1998 I have been self-employed, working as a Head Gardener and in private gardens . Through the RHS Advisory Department at Wisley I advise on horticultural problems in members gardens, including pest & disease problems, lawn-care advice, pruning of wisterias, fruit trees, roses, wildlife gardening, growing fruit & vegetables, creating wildflower meadows, identifying plants and control of pernicious weeds. Autumn 2016 finds me at the Autumn Flower Show 6-8 of September at RHS Wisley and Taste of Autumn Sunday 23rd of October. Sunday 11th of September I am cycling from London to Brighton for Perennial ( Gardeners Benevolent Fund) who helped me when I broke my leg badly in 2014. Had the plate removed in February this year. My Just Giving page is Perennial is a Fabulous Charity who help anyone working in horticulture. I didn't think I would need their help at the age of 52! They were brilliant and helped us as a family. It's my turn to repay their help and others too! John Ambrose and I have raised over £ 2000.00 thank you all. I am an extremely lucky guy who loves what I do and the trade called Horticulture!

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23rd Aug 2016
Thanks for voting!
How do I get rid of a "fairy ring"? Or in this case a half moon shape of toadstools in my lawn.It has kept appearing for the last two summers. Any advice please?
19th Aug 2016
Thanks for voting!
Last year I planted a dwarf lavender hedge and it has grown remarkably well. When and how should I prune it? Any advice please?
Peter Mills
20th Aug 2016
Thanks for voting!
Hi Barbara,
If your lavender has flowered and the flowers have faded, cut back your plants by 50%, into nice rounded clumps. Look at Downderry Lavender website. Holders of National Lavender Collection.
Kind regards Peter
19th Aug 2016
Thanks for voting!
I have a large Geranium Maderense in a big pot which does not appear to want to flower and hasn't done so over the last 3 years. I cut back a couple of the thick stems at the end of the winter. It is watered and fed. It has been outside but protected for the last two v mild winters with only the loss of two or three leaves/fronds.

Any thoughts


John Mack
Peter Mills
20th Aug 2016
Thanks for voting!
Dear John,
I think you are over watering. Allow to dry out between watering so the plant wilts a bit. Feed with tomato feed to encourage flowers and have the pot in the sunniest position possible. Let w know what happens!
Kind regards Peter

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