Gardening: Tips on what to do in the week ahead

Pick lettuce this week, cutting every alternate one in a row to leave others more space to develop

:: Take cuttings of new shoots of camellias, rooting them in a gritty compost in a covered propagator.

:: Clean pond pump filters to ensure they don't get clogged up with algae.

:: Harvest Japanese onions planted last autumn.

:: Thin out heavy crops of apples, picking off small, damaged fruits to give the rest more room.

:: Continue to pick sweet peas for cut flowers indoors or remove dead seed heads to ensure that plants continue to flower.

:: Feed established wisteria with a high potash liquid feed to promote flowering.

:: Layer non-flowering side shoots of carnations to raise new plants.

:: Water blue hydrangeas with a solution of colourant to ensure blue varieties remain blue in future and prompt pink ones to turn blue.

:: Top up levels of ponds and water features as water evaporates.

:: Pick ripe tomatoes as they form and remove leaves below the lowest truss to improve air circulation.

:: Pick lettuce, cutting every alternate one in a row to leave others more space to develop.

BEST OF THE BUNCH – pelargoniums

THESE are among the most drought-tolerant of summer bedding plants, adding colour and texture to containers and at the front of borders. They used to be known as geraniums as their seed capsules are similar to those of our native hardy geraniums, but the name still sticks. There are more than 200 species, but the most common are zonal perlagoniums, the ones with leaves like opened fans. There are also 'uniques', which bear masses of small flowers and scented foliage, while regal pelargoniums are among the earliest to flower and many produce rich colours including deep burgundies and plums. Ivy-leaved types are trailing, so ideal for hanging baskets and containers. The beauty about these plants is that they hardly need watering – in fact most problems occur through over-watering – and if its roots become constricted in the pot it should flower profusely. Good varieties include 'Voodoo', a unique variety with wine red flowers with black centres, and 'Attar of Roses', a light pink type valued for its rose-scented foliage.


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