GREEN FINGERS: Summer is on its way… surely!

Darren with his gold-medal display at the BBC Gardeners World live event in Birmingham

Well as usual, I start off with a round-up of the recent weather that affects all us gardeners. What a few weeks it’s been; just as we thought summer had arrived it’s recently turned very autumnal all of a sudden. We are certainly not yet basking in glorious sunshine and high temperatures. Some plants are thriving and some are being slow to get growing, but things will change sooner or later.

Today (Friday) is the longest day of the year, and usually the day to lift your shallots and start to dry them off in the summer sunshine. Many vegetables will be loving these slightly cooler and somewhat wet conditions and, on the plus side, there is a little less watering to do.

Flowers are on the whole running a week or two behind where they should be, but this is gardening after all, and no two years are ever the same.

It’s not too late to sow some more vegetables, such as carrots, beetroot, salad crops and beans; these will give you a later crop that will see you through the latter stages of the season and, with the current weather, are likely to germinate quickly.

Sweet peas will have begun to flower and will improve as the warm sunshine eventually comes. If you haven’t already done so, it’s a good time to pinch the tops of your dahlias out.

This will encourage the side shoots to grow and will be in flower approximately 60 days later. Flowering towards the end of the August, when the dahlias are at their best.

In a couple of weeks you can give some of your perennials, such as geraniums, the Hampton Court hack. Cut them back to encourage a second flush of blooms later in the summer and early autumn.

I’ve just returned from the BBC Gardeners World live event, in Birmingham, where the hot topic of conversation was the lack of warm sunshine. It was the first time I’d been to this event and was thrilled to be awarded a Gold for my efforts.