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Keeping Up with the Early Summer Garden

Now that we’ve exhausted ourselves by planting up and mulching beds, putting in the veg, and making sure that each window box and hanging basket is just so, it’s time to… DO MORE WORK.

This is the season to nourish the healthy growers and rejuvenate the flowers that have been over-watered/smashed/defoliated by our recent storms.

Things to do:

  • Give everything a good feed. Tired plants will especially appreciate a

boost of properly mixed liquid seaweed fertilizer. Hanging baskets

become dry and hungry quickly, especially on sunny and windy days.

  • Prune. Prune. PRUNE. You should be deadheading perennials like crazy:

cut expired flowers back to a full set of leaves; be sure to clip the seed

heads off iris, lilacs, and other pod formers, as letting those grow robs the

plant of energy; attend to rampant re-blooming roses (especially rugosas),

which will respond to a big haircut. After their first round of heavy

production, I reduce mine by 1/3 height for another full bloom before the

Japanese beetles (early arrivers in some areas this year) do their nasty


  • Neaten up annuals by constantly clipping finished flowers back to the

next set of buds. Plants usually respond to cutting with fuller stems and

blooms. Many annuals produce bigger and better (sweet peas, cosmos,

zinnias) color with frequent harvesting. So bring lots of flowers into your

home, guilt-free; you are doing your plants a service by filling your vases.

  • Remember that hanging plants rarely last the full season. Whether you

replace individual elements or all of the annuals in your baskets, change

out the soil, add slow-release fertilizer, and water faithfully. Some

hangers may need moisture twice a day.

  • Have you heard of the Chelsea Chop? It’s a pruning technique meant to

lengthen the bloom time of perennials by taking them down about one-

third in height. You can shape many of your plants still to flower,

especially phlox family members, by giving them a rounded shaping right


  • Remember that discard piles covered with leaves and grass clippings can

offer friendly cover for all sorts of native creatures. They will appreciate

your careful mounds and pay you back by breaking down what you leave

them into next year’s compost.


  • Start seeds for next year’s lupines right now. See the April 2023 Garden

Clippings for instructions.

A friend used to say that if you haven’t filled at least one big bag each day with

dead heads and stems, get back to work! The more you take from your garden,

the more it will give back to you.

Canny Cahn is a member of GCW and Chairs the GCW Mentorship Program.

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