It is vital to keep bird baths and water bowls topped up during the summer months.
Planting autumn flowering bulbs
The meadow saffron (Colchicum autumnale) sometimes called autumn crocus – and the true autumn flowering crocus (Crocus speciosus) can be planted now. Both species look best grown in bold groups, in well drained soil and in an open position or under a deciduous tree. Use a trowel or specially designed bulb planter and set the bulbs 10cm (4”) deep and 20cm (8”) apart for colchicums, 10cm (4”) deep and 10cm (4” apart) for crocuses. Cover completely with earth and firm in place.
It is not too late to sow seeds of biennial plants for flowering next spring and summer. Wallflowers, foxgloves, forget me not and sweet rocket may be sown outdoors now and put into their flowering positions in the autumn.
Broom (Cytisus scoparius) should be pruned occasionally after it has finished flowering. Careful pruning will prevent the shrub becoming bare stemmed and leggy. Using sharp secateurs, cut back all, or most of the stems which have just flowered. Make the cut just above the point where the stem joins the old wood and where new shoots are developing. Take care not to cut into the old wood as it does not respond well to pruning and may fail to produce any new growth. Mature plants do tend to become hard wooded after several years and if pruning has no effect, it is best to discard them.
Note: Broom are short lived shrubs and should be discarded after six or seven years when they become too woody and cease to flower.
Tying in climbers
New growths of climbing plants, such as honeysuckle or clematis, should be trained towards their wires or trellis. If they are not tied in the shoots become tangled and may not grow in the desired direction.
Cutting the summer flowering meadow
Established meadows – this is the traditional hay making time of year and a good time to give the established summer flowering lawn or meadow its annual cut. When the best of the summer flowers are over, cut down the grass to 10cm (4”) using a hand or motor scythe (Both should be handled by an experienced user for safety purposes). Leave the cuttings to dry in place for a day or so as this allows the insects time to crawl back into the meadow and any seeds to fall back to ground. Then rake the cuttings and add (sparingly) to the compost heap, or use as a mulch around trees and shrubs.
New meadows: Meadows sown last autumn with a mixture of meadow and annual cornfield flower seeds should also be given their annual cut this month. If the cornfield annuals are still in flower, the cut can be left for a few weeks until they have finished. New lawns and meadows sown without the cornfield annuals, should only be cut if particularly long and untidy.
Use the buddleia to carry out a butterfly species count. It is remarkable how many will visit the flower spikes on a warm summer day. Peacocks, tortoiseshells and red admirals are likely candidates but painted ladies, wall browns and other less common species may well appear.
Native butterflies and the normal source of nectar
Brimstone Greater knapweed, thistles
Comma Michaelmas daisies, buddleia, sedum
Common blue Field scabious, greater knapweed, red campion, ragged robin
Holly blue Cotoneaster, ivy, holly
Peacock Buddleia, Michaelmas daisies, sedum
Red Admiral Buddleia, Michaelmas daisies, sedum
Small tortoiseshell Buddleia, Michaelmas daisies, sedum
Speckled wood Bramble