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Banish the summer gardening blahs

Keep your garden looking gorgeous right through the fall months

As fall approaches, many gardeners (and not just newly minted ones) get the doldrums. Between the heat, humidity and drought, it becomes awfully tempting to turn our backs on the garden.

But I think that’s really too bad. In Canada, the growing season is short enough, so why quit when there are weeks of nice weather ahead? With its cooler temperatures and golden light, late summer and autumn can offer some of the most beautiful and enjoyable times in the garden. Here are a few tips to perk up your patch and extend your flower show well into fall.

Deadhead to encourage more blooms
By late summer, many early-blooming perennials are setting seed, flopping over and generally looking untidy, so a grooming session is in order. The first step is to deadhead, which means removing faded flowers and seed heads. This will promote a second and longer flowering period for many perennials, such as tickseed (Coreopsis), shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) and speedwell (Veronica spp.), as well as most modern rose cultivars.

Trim away old foliage
Remove tattered or sunburned foliage and cut back excess growth that’s crowding out other plants. Certain perennials, such as lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and some cranesbills (including ‘Wargrave Pink’ geranium, Geranium x oxonianum ‘Wargrave Pink’), have a fresh crop of leaves hiding under their mature foliage. Other early bloomers, including pinks (Dianthus spp.), catmint (Nepeta spp.) and lavender can be tidied by cutting back the foliage by half with hedge shears. And don’t forget to clear out weeds before they have a chance to set seed.

Hydrate your beds
Give your garden a deep, refreshing drink once a week during dry periods with at least 25 millimetres of water. To measure, set an empty tuna can, or the like, under your sprinkler. Water early in the morning so you don’t waste any through evaporation.


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