If only preparing the garden for your summer holiday was as easy as packing a suitcase. But time and thought spent before you go should prevent you being greeted by a jungle when you get home.

You won’t have to arrange a ‘poultry sitter’ like me to come and feed the flock every day, but you may need a little help from your friends if you have a lot of pots and especially a greenhouse.

Although we can’t predict how the weather will pan out, at the time of writing this, it looks as if we’ll be preparing the garden for yet another changeable Scottish summer where one fleetingly glorious day is followed by cool, grey wet ones.

For starters, prepare the garden itself for your neglect. Mow the lawn when it’s not actually raining, setting the blades a bit higher if it’s wetter than you’d like. And tidy those vital edges to show it really is a lawn and not just a forgotten mess. It’ll all be pretty ragged when you return, but won’t be a hay field.

Clearly any weeding will be minimal if the beds are mulched. But opportunistic weeds will nimbly exploit the slightest whiff of rain when you’re away and will colonise any bare ground and cast their seed asunder.

So spend an hour or two hoeing and digging out any perennial thugs like ground elder or docks. We all know the soil should be fairly dry for hoeing to be really effective as a sharp hoe will slice through roots and leaves will shrivel in the sun. But whatever the weather and state of the soil, I still reckon hoeing will at least slow down weed growth.

You’ll have to enlist help with pots and planters. You should do some things, whatever the weather. Move pots under partial cover if possible and group them together. This reduces any overheating when it’s sunny and gives some shelter against the wind. Perhaps most importantly, watering will be easier for your friend.


How can Scottish gardeners cope with these cool days and wet nights?

A Scottish garden that was 300 years in the making

Your biggest challenge will be deciding whether to place the planters on saucers to preserve water or raise them off the ground to allow for drainage during a wet spell. All you can do is check the forecast and hope it’s right. 

If a container is crammed with plants the compost could stay quite dry, even when it rains, as the leaves shed the wet over the edges of the pot.  So this needs regular watering regardless of the weather and your friend would need to top up any irrigation reservoir for an automatic system.

But the compost in pots will anyway have to be checked for moisture. If fully exposed to the elements and with part of the surface vacant, a lot of rainwater could get in or it could quickly dry out in warm sun.

And do tell your friends they’ll be doing you a favour by taking any soft fruit or veg like courgettes or runners if they’re ready. Marrows and giant stringy beans are no use to anyone and the plants will stop fruiting early. I hope you’re more successful than us!

Hemerocallis ’Tip of the Iceberg’Hemerocallis ’Tip of the Iceberg’ (Image: unknown)

Plant of the week

Hemerocallis ’Tip of the Iceberg’ is one of the few white daylilies. The 12cm blooms are triangular in shape, with slightly ruffled edges and the petals are just the cream side of white with a green yellow throat. It is a mid season flowerer and will continue producing flowers for about a month.