Summer gardens

The next couple of months are when we’ll all be aiming to relax and enjoy our gardens at their summer peak – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done, says Adam Kirtland

Try your best to enjoy what the coming months have to offer, but if you’ve got twitchy fingers like me and want a few projects to keep you busy then I’ve got you covered!

Why not try your hand at some garden DIY?

For anyone that already follows me on Instagram (@viewfromthepottingbench), you’ll know I’ve got a huge passion for garden DIY and coming up with creative and new projects. Lots of these projects involve very little cost and are sometimes completely free – and they’re often ideal for any sized space, even balconies. If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll remember me mentioning in the past that I’m somewhat of a frugal gardener so it really is music to my ears when something can be done for cheap!
One of these projects that is always very popular and can be done by anyone, no prior skill required, is making your own herb planter with a wooden pallet. All you need to do is add some old compost bags into each ‘section’ and add your compost of choice (I use peat free). Once you’ve added your compost then you can plant them up with anything you like, but now is a great time to buy bedding plants in most garden centres.
You’ll see from the picture that I’ve used simple marigolds in this one but you can also add some fantastic trailing plants, such as lobelia, on the upper levels for interest across the whole piece. Wooden pallets give you a great framework to start with and the options are endless.

Keep those pots watered (mindfully…)

Cast your minds back briefly to last summer and just how hot and dry we had it here in Birmingham. Water was on the mind of most gardeners at any given time, wanting to keep plants watered whilw also being aware of shortages and hosepipe bans. Thankfully there are some really creative ways to save household water to use out in the garden when those droughts hit again.
If your hot taps indoors are anything like mine then they can take an age to for the water to heat up. So, while letting them run, make sure to catch all that water in glasses or jugs to then use on the garden rather than letting it go down the drain. Another nifty trick is to save some of the water while you’re having a shower! Last year I made a video on Instagram about standing in a large bucket while showering and it ended up being seen more than three million times. And I know what you’re thinking – what about the soap?! Try not to worry, if you do this infrequently then the soap won’t be harmful, but even better if you use organic and natural soaps.
Keeping pots watered can be a real task in itself so why not use an upturned old wine bottle, filled with water and stuck into the compost to slowly water pots? I did this last year with our blueberries and it worked a treat!

Remove old flowers to promote new ones!

By now your garden will be settled into summer and your pots and borders will already be full of life and plenty of vigour. But as we go on through the season, plants (particularly bedding plants and annuals) will start to look tired after time so deadheading is one way to keep them going for much longer.
If you don’t deadhead then there’s a chance the plant will do something called ‘going to seed’, which essentially is the process of them trying to produce seed that will scatter on its own to grow more plants next year. This can be great, but what it does mean is that the plant puts all of its energy and efforts into produce this seed, rather than producing more flowers.
By deadheading, you’re telling the plant to stop doing that and you’ll get more flowers and sometimes a strong second flush later in the season. The flowers pictures (purple are Senetti and pink are Dianthus) will both benefit from this and you’ll have blooms all summer long.

You can follow Adam on Instagram @viewfromthepottingbench or listen to his Tales From The Potting Bench podcast for more gardening inspiration. You can also read Adam’s blog at