The rain is raining all around,

It falls on field and tree,

It rains on the umbrellas here,

And on the ships at sea. 

Robert Louis Stevenson, 1917

By Gordon the Gardener

I don’t need to tell you that rain has continued to annoy all of us gardeners. We can get by but it makes it harder and a mite uncomfortable.

It has fallen on field and trees, as Stevenson says in his short but sweet poem. This has had an effect on our trees which this year have grown lush with plentiful leaves – more than I have seen for years.

Shrubs too have done well flowering in the wet and cool conditions. Others have not so far flourished so well.

So, what can we do? The answer is high potash liquid feed, given at last once per week to our hanging baskets and window boxes, and any other plant that you think is under performing.

The obvious choice is tomato feed which is a high potash source. But there are plenty of other options with liquid feeds. Phostrogen is one of them NPK 14-20-27, and is one of my favourites.

Throughout July keep up with dead heading of all your flowering plants. Dead heading will keep up the flowering.

When liquid feeding this should be preceded by watering the plants first then applying the liquid feed. Liquid feed acts straight away and there is no delay in taking effect.

Feeding should be kept up in the greenhouse especially cucumbers who are ‘gross’ feeders.



Tomatoes should be well set with fruit and good high phosphate tomato feed will encourage fruit growth including ripening.

Early potatoes will soon be ready to use. A method to use at this early stage, recommended by the late, great gardener Joe Maiden, is potato tickling, where you go into a row of spuds with your hands and scrape away the soil to reveal the tubers that are ready to use.

That way you don’t have to use a fork to lift the whole plant so, if on investigation, they are not quite ready the soil can be put back with little disturbance.



I visited Brodsworth Hall near Doncaster, which was built in the 1860s for the Thellusson family.

Today, the Victorian pleasure gardens have been expertly restored to their former glory, and are the perfect place for a family adventure in the fresh air.

The gardens there are of a very high standard, as can be seen in my photographs taken recently. Every lawn edge cut perfectly.

The laburnum arch was a joy to see, and is a rare feature of the gardens. The house and gardens are under the upkeep of English Heritage and are well worth a visit.