This month many gardens reach their full beauty.

Even though many hydrangeas are now past their best, others such as roses and the silk trees are blooming.

The flower beds and borders are rich in colour as summer flowers are in bloom.

Lavenders produce another flush of purple-blue flowers, summer lilies give off a fragrance that makes the air heavy with delicious scent, many roses will produce another flush of flowers and grace many a garden with a blaze of colour.


Bedding plants or annuals are at their best and brightest and the orange and yellow marigolds and all colours of petunias, lobelia and geraniums brighten many a border pot or container and hanging basket. Some gardens also grow nicotiana (tobacco plant) just for the scent they give off every evening. Another flower at its best now is impatiens with their bright red, pink and white flowers making a stunning display.

Often at this time of the year gaps can appear in borders. Planting a selection of perennials that flower later in the summer will help keep the borders bright over the next couple of months.

Many climbers such as clematis, honeysuckle and pandoreas envelope fences and scramble up pergolas, trellises and over arches to offer privacy and seclusion.

Roses require attention right now. Spent blooms should be removed at frequent times during the flowering season, not only for the tidiness of your plants but also to prevent the formation of seed heads which is a waste of the plants' energy. When flowers or spent blooms are cut, a reasonable length of stem should be removed. New shoots have generally started to develop on the old flower stem and a clean cut should be made just above one of these. New growth will then come away quickly.

Applying mulch to the soil during the summer season will help to conserve moisture and keep the soil cooler; it will also reduce weed growth. It is best to apply mulch after the garden area has been thoroughly watered.

It is beneficial to feed roses using Yates Dynamic Lifter, Tui Rose Food or Novatec.

If your soil has acidic tendencies or if heavy dressings of organic materials are applied annually, then a light application of lime will be of benefit. When feeding make sure the fertiliser contains potash - it helps to harden growth and makes the plant less susceptible to disease. Potash will aid flowering and may also help to intensify colour in the flowers.

Keep an eye out for the spread of pests and diseases on roses. Maintain regular sprays to control aphids, rust and blackspot. Use Combat 3-in-1 or Yates Rose Gun which is also a useful combination spray for pests and diseases affecting vegetables, fruits and flowers.


February is the first of the bulb planting months. In stores now are the new season's ranunculus and anemones as well as freesias, crocus, daffodils and hyacinth.

A couple of favourites are ranunculus and anemone.

Ranunculus corms resemble a claw which must be planted downwards 3-4cm deep in a sunny well drained position. Their blooms come in red, rose, gold, lemon, yellow and white on strong 30-50cm stems.

They are very effective planted in bold clumps 6-8cm apart, as ribbon borders in pots, or as cut flowers.

Anemone corms will display brilliant single or double flowers in full colour during mid-winter to late spring. Plant 3-4cm deep and 10-15cm apart making sure that the flat part of the corm is uppermost. in a sun or part shade position. Best in a cool spot if planting now.

Both anemones and ranunculus can be difficult to germinate. They should be chilled for 5-6 weeks in the fridge (not freezer), then soaked in fresh running water for 10-12 hours prior to planting.

■Gareth Carter is general manager of Springvale Garden Centre.