L.M. Montgomery said a garden was “like faith-the substance of things hoped for,” and we think this is a lovely and apt sentiment. But tending a garden, especially in the hot summer months, isn’t always easy and its sometimes hard to know what the best thing to do to help it flourish is. Luckily, this is something garden enthusiasts have been pondering well before Montgomery’s time. We’ve located some helpful hints for summer gardening from a lovely Edwardian Era book called Making A Garden of Perennials by W.C. Egan (published in 1912). Here are some suggestions, which would have been used back in L.M. Montgomery’s day.
According to Egan, shallow-rooted plants, like cardinal flowers and phloxes, dislike the hot sun beating down on their roots and suffer when the soil is dried out. When planting flowers like this, mulching is a must do. Spent manure is the perfect thing for this, being great for the nutrients, but also the same colour as the soil ( and hardly noticeable). Fresh grass clippings are also ideal for mulching and can be spread around the plants with the manure. This will help keep the soil from drying out and depriving your plants of valuable moisture.
Egan says that despite their pesky appearance year after year, a weed is the best friend a gardener can have-if only because they act as a reminder to tend your garden! Cultivation keeps the garden soil open to air and moister and helps conserve any moisture remaining in the soil. Weeds that have not fully grown upward will be easier to pull out by the roots. But if the weeds have grown in, its best to wait until a hot and windy day and then tackle them. The wind and the sun will kill any uprooted weeds in short time. Never weed your garden on a damp and cloudy day-this makes it easier for any remnants of weeds to take root around your plants and it will then be almost impossible to uproot the weed without removing any plants you wish to keep.
According to Making A Garden of Perennials, it is best to either give the garden a good watering day after day or to wait until it rains and then go over it lightly with a hoe. This will allow for aeration and will also remove any detritus that accumulates and could threaten the health of the garden.
Plants for different soil types:
Is your garden in a shady position? Egan says the following plants are ideal:
Virginia Blue Bells
For dry soil, Egan writes that the following are best:
And if your garden tends to be more prone to having wet soil, Egan recommends the following:
Swamp Mallow/all Mallows
How ever you tend your garden, and whatever you plant, remember that your gardening is meant to be fulfilling for you, whether you plant perennials or vegetables.
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