Clear the flightpath leading to your hives so that bees can move in and out freely. The effect of all this rain means that nectar-rich flowers are few and far between and honey bees will be doing their best to harvest the pollen so the last thing they need is to have to fight their way into the hive and risk losing their precious loads in the long grass. Visit the RHS website for a a list of wild flowers beloved by pollinators.
In his Directions for the Gardiner (Oxford University Press), John Evelyn advises you hang bottles of “beer mingled with Honey, to entice the Wasps, Flies, etc neer your Red-Roman-Nectarines, and other tempting fruits, for their destruction; else they many times invade your best Fruit”. Please note that wasp traps do not harm bees, as the latter cannot fly upwards and therefore cannot get inside the trap.
Wasp trap, Green Gardener, 01493 750061
Avoid pruning your hedges until the end of August at the earliest. As the RSPB says, the main breeding time for garden birds is between March and August so give them time to rear their young. Conifers in particular provide nesting sites for blackbirds, robins, and greenfinches, as well as larger birds such as sparrowhawks and crows.
Plan your autumn borders now. For a bright, bold look, garden designer Philippa Pearson suggests mixing blocks of colours that clash together, à la fashion designer Zandra Rhodes. Philippa also recommends experimenting with different textures, such as the various forms of dahlias (pictured) combined with the long stems of Veronicastrum.
Border designs service, Philippa Pearson, 01767 651253
Start planting autumn-flowering bulbs this month. Take note of each type of bulbs flowering time and position them in your flowerbeds, pots and lawn so that you can enjoy the blooms for as long as possible; as the early bulbs bloom and die, the mid-season collection will appear, bloom and die, and so on.
Small bulbs, try Broadleigh Bulbs, 01823 286231
Check supports for climbing plants; the strong winds and torrential rain will have put considerable pressure on everything but regular tidying in the garden is easier to deal with than leaving it all until the end of the summer.
Start to sow winter cropping vegetables such as carrots, leeks, sprouting broccoli, winter cabbage and cauliflower. You can also continue to sow lettuces, radishes and beetroot in between the rows of slower-growing crops.
Winter cabbages, Nickys Nursery, 01843 600972