Every gardener who aspires to the name will really know his or her way round a pair of secateurs, and will, I think, automatically know that the harder you prune shrubs (particularly roses) the stronger the new growths will be. It therefore follows that pruning lightly will not result in any vigorous growth. Thinking of roses, and particularly hybrid T roses which bear their flowers at the end of the season’s growth somewhere about eye level, I suppose the ideal is to prune them between strong and medium, so that during the growing season flowers are borne at a good height.  Certainly this would be true if, say, you are growing them in England, but in Guyana where growth is so strong and rapid then reducing the shoots produced the previous year by half will be enough. Experience will be the guide here.

When I was at secondary school I remember an extremely enthusiastic biology master who really found it a bit difficult to get the nuts and bolts of his subject across to his students. This was especially true of the work of an Austrian monk called Gregor Mendel. I always thought that he must have been a bit mad in those days. Quite the opposite in fact, for he really was the the founder of the science of plant breeding, and at every opportunity we should raise our glasses to him. Brother Stephan – a Polish Jesuit – has been putting into practice the work of Gregor Mendel. Brother Stephan had registered 84 odd varieties of Day Lily (Hemerocallis) and a couple of dozen clematis. He claimed that his success was due to the fact that he talked to his plants like children.

Anyone who has a garden, or who has had a garden on heavy clay soil, or on pure sand will know something of the trials and tribulations to be faced. The growing of magnificent vegetables and glorious flowers requires some effort, not the least of which is the control of weeds. There are only two types of weeds: annuals, which produce thousands of seeds and have relatively small root systems; and perennials, which are often deep rooted and persistent.  In the north of England from where I come, there is an old and well known saying regarding annuals. ‘One year’s seed, seven years’ weed.’

In this there is a clue. Don’t let annuals get to the stage of flowering. Hoe them out or pull them out. If you do this throughout the year they will eventually die out. Perennial weeds need a bit more persistence because they are themselves persistent.aug14  If you try and control them by hoeing they will simply grow again.  You have to try and dig them out or, if they prove to be so persistent, use a chemical weedkiller on them. Not by spraying the ground all around, but by careful spot treatment.

Until next week may your God go with you wherever you may be.