Les’s Patch column

Les Foden.
Les Foden.
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There are many jobs to be done in the garden at this time of year.

One such job is attending to rhododendrons and azaleas. These plants are short lived when in flower, but they more than make up for that in colour.

Within a few weeks, bushes that were covered in show blooms become a mass of unsightly dead flower heads. Remove these to help next year’s show.

Peaches and nectarines need thinning. This should be done in two stages.

Stage one, when the fruits are as big as hazelnuts thin to four inches (10cm) apart. Stage two, when they are as big as walnuts finally thin to nine inches (23cm) apart.

From now on all wall plants, including peaches and nectarines, are likely to suffer dryness at the roots, even in wet weather, so put the hose on them and follow up with a heavy mulch of any organic material that will conserve moisture.

Perennial climbs that can be grown as annuals can be very useful. Plant Canary Creeper (Tropaeolum Peregrinum) at the base of a shrub or hedge where, later in the year, its yellow flowers will add a splash of colour to what would otherwise be dull foliage.

Eccremocarpus Scaber is another useful climber. This will survive some winters if we don’t get a severe frost.

The variety Fireworks gives a show of small tubular flowers in shades of yellow, rose, red and orange throughout the summer, and small, lantern-like seed pods in autumn.

As well as scrambling through shrubby growth these are all very useful for filling in gaps on trellis before permanent planted climbers have grown to fill their allotted space.

We must always be looking ahead and for a good show of biennials next year they must be sown now. As well as wallflowers and forget-me-nots be more adventurous and grow some of the less common types such a Digitalis (Foxglove) and the grey leaved Verbascum.

Now summer has arrived it is time for house and greenhouse pot plants to take their summer holiday. Almost all except the very tender can be moved outside and indoor azaleas benefit from this treatment more than any other type of plant.

Find a warm but shady corner and plunge each pot up to its rim in the soil, or better still in peat. Make sure that the plants don’t dry out during the summer and give each one a little fertiliser once a fortnight.

If your azalea was a Christmas present and is still in a plastic pot, swap it into a clay pot of the same size or one size larger and pack the root ball around with fresh ericaceous compost before it is placed outside.

Make sure camellias don’t go short of water over the next couple of months because that is the period when they are forming buds for next spring’s flowers.