Belt and braces

Last year's wet spring followed by a mild summer led to incredibly enthusiastic growth from the plants in the garden at Genus HQ.  Many normally well behaved perennials grew above head height, dahlias excelled, and our Geranium ‘Rozanne’ was double its normal size.  Luckily we’ve learnt over the years to be prepared and preemptive staking was carried out in plenty of time to prevent a disaster.

Excessive growth that causes a plant to keel over can be mitigated in a number of ways.  A ‘Chelsea Chop’ where we cut back flowering stems by up to a half around the end of May can reduce eventual height and therefore the plants susceptibility to wind or heavy rain.  Holding off on high nitrogen feeds can also help.

Staking is the ‘belt and braces’ approach and ensures the plants remain upright whatever is thrown at them.  This is something we’ve been getting on with over the last few weeks.  Now is a good time to do it, with access into the borders still relatively easy.  Leaving staking until later or trying to rescue plants once they’ve fallen never goes well.

Our large clump of white Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ is always susceptible to flopping especially when wet and her huge flowerheads get weighed down by rain so this year we made something rather more robust by utilising three round fence posts and some stout cord.  It sounds excessive but we know from experience that the posts will soon be engulfed by foliage and her invisible girdle will keep her back straight for the rest of the year.