Pruning lavender

Lavender flower

Spanish lavender needs to be pruned in summer.

Italian lavender 'Avonview'

In the cool of the early morning and late in the afternoon I have been tidying up my garden. We had so much rain in spring that everything grew rapidly with lots of plants being overgrown, swamping nearby plants. I am just now finding time to do something about this and while most of the garden should have been cut back weeks ago (I always seem to be running weeks behind), now is the perfect time to prune most lavenders. They have been glorious right through spring but now the flower heads have largely finished and are starting to brown off, so its time to cut them back. All the Spanish and Italian lavenders (Lavandula pedunculata and L. stoechas) benefit from an allover trim. Just hold a clump of flowers in your hand and cut back well below the flowers, taking about a third of the leafy stem as well. You should end up with a compact, shaped shrub with no flowers.  One of the joys of pruning lavender is the scent, I find it makes me feel cheerful and clearheaded. Not unexpected as in aromatherapy lavender is calming and antidepressant. Read more

Peppery watercress

Peppery salad plant

Succulent, peppery watercress

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is a sprawling much-branched, aquatic, perennial plant, with a low, creeping growth habit, with heart-shaped, bright green leaflets and white flowers. Roots grow from nodes where they touch the ground. It is really easy to grow, if you buy a bunch of watercress, just plonk one piece into a glass of water and within a few days it will have produced roots. You can also grow it from seed.
Ideally watercress should be grown in running water, but it survives well in a pond, planted in a pot submerged in the water,  as long as it is regularly sprayed with fresh water. Once a week is enough. Alternatively grow it in a pot sitting in another container full of water that is also regularly topped up. Watercress likes a humus-rich, fertile soil and full sun or partial shade.  Once plants are growing well remove any flower heads to promote leaf growth and prolong harvest. Read more

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