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Gardening during the Summer Recess – tips for parliamentarians from the HTA

Horticultural Trades Association

5 min read Partner content

The Horticultural Trades Association offers some tips and advice for parliamentarian garden hobbyists during recess.

Following the end of a busy parliamentary period for MPs, Lords and MSPs Summer Recess offers, at least some time, for politicians to enjoy their gardens.

Blues, reds, yellows and greens take on a different meaning, away from the gruelling campaign trail, to the tranquillity of your own garden.

Here are some top tips from the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) for parliamentarians to follow over the summer break: 

  • Regularly remove faded blooms from flowers in pots and planters on your terrace – doing this will keep them looking good and flowering longer.
  • From the middle or end of this month, there will be some annuals which really have no chance of continuing to perform and these are best confined to the compost heap, so clear the space and pop in something else which will provide colour well into autumn.
  • Regularly weed to give garden plants the space they need to thrive. Grab a hoe, choose a hot day and you can leave the hoed weeds on the soil surface to frazzle up, so making the job quicker! You can burn off 87 Mars bars a year by doing some light gardening for one hour per week (e.g. raking, weeding)!
  • If conditions are dry, you may need to water. Prioritise plants in containers and cropping fruit and veg. A less frequent but good thorough drenching is more useful (and less wasteful) than more regular light watering.
  • Install a water butt (or two!) to collect water from your bath & shower. Water diverters can be fitted to the downpipe to make collection easy as soon as there’s the next downpour. Water retention and recycling is key to our industry. SME plant and tree nurseries would welcome greater access to grants for reservoirs and water tanks – offering mid-term ROI and huge benefit to the environment with more regular droughts predicted.
  • Make sure that relatively newly laid or sown lawns are kept adequately watered. Older lawns won’t need watering, even if the weather is dry; but young less well-established grasses suffer quickly and damage is soon done. Always water in the evening if at all possible.
  • Entertaining out in your garden is one of things that makes summer so special. Make that outdoor eating and relaxing space look as good and enticing as it can by ‘decorating’ with pots and planters filled full of gorgeous UK-grown plants. Visit an HTA member garden centre where experts would be happy to advise you on the right plant for the right place.

Garden centre

  • If plants in pots are really suffering in the heat, consider moving them to a slightly shadier, cooler spot.
  • Feed planters, hanging baskets and other containers frequently to encourage more flowers to develop. A special flowering plant food, or tomato fertiliser works well.
  • Prune rambler roses as they cease flowering, use sharp secateurs to do the best possible job. Speaking of jobs, the horticulture industry supports the employment of over 670,000 people in the UK.
  • Give herbs such as thymes a haircut to keep them compact. Use the prunings in cooking, or rinse, dry, and freeze for use in winter.
  • Buy a packet of mixed salad leaf seed and make some late sowings. These really can just be sprinkled, watered and left. Save yourself time later on by sowing relatively thinly and so reducing the need to thin out the seedlings. Alternatively, remember that most of these crops can be harvested when tiny and simply snipped off at ground level. If you intend to do this then sow fairly thinly and there is no need to do any further thinning.
  • Plant belladonna lily and fritillaria bulbs for gorgeous colour next year and for years to come.
  • Fill gaps in flower beds and borders with some late summer colour from classics such as rudbeckia, echinacea, argyranthemum and more – visit your local nursery or garden centre for a whole range off seasonal often UK-grown inspiration (and temptation!) UK growers rely on imports from Europe for their operations. A workable target operating model policy for border control is vital to our sector.
  • Give lavender plants a haircut using a pair of shears so that the old flower spikes are removed. Try to also take about 2.5 cm (1 in) off the leafy shoot tips too as this will help to ensure that the plants are kept good, dense and bushy.
  • Buy some spring flowering bulbs, there are some for just about every spot in the garden – for pots and tubs, beds and borders or ‘naturalised’ beneath trees when scattered and planted where they fall to create an informal, stunning carpet of colour in the spring. Daffodils and crocus are perfect for this and will provide a gorgeous display for many, many years. Ornamentals production was valued at £1.54bn in 2022 by Defra.

Flower

The HTA represents nearly 1500 members across the entire Environmental Horticulture supply chain in the UK. The industry footprint covers 567 constituencies and underpins goals in the Environmental Improvement Plan. Millions of people in the UK are regular garden enthusiasts and enjoy physical and mental health benefits as a result. For more information on the industry visit https://hta.org.uk/policy/policy-library

We are the ‘original green industry’ delivering on net-zero by growing and planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide, help clean the air and cool urban settings. Public green spaces and parks are key to this with the majority of the UK population living in towns and cities. Such green spaces have also been proven to return on investment in terms of social, health and well-being.

The HTA will also be attending the Party Conferences and would welcome the chance to meet with you – policy@hta.org.uk

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