Action plan: Nigel Colborn's essential jobs for your garden this week

Action plan: Nigel Colborn's essential jobs for your garden this week

Action plan: Nigel Colborn’s essential jobs for your garden this week

  • Nigel Colborn offered tips on how to cut back climbing plants
  • UK-based garden expert also advised to remove dying stems from euphorbias
  • Nigel said to make the cut as close to the ground without damaging plant base 


Climbers that run far beyond their allotted territory can become damaging nuisances. If you have a rambling rose or a vigorous honeysuckle creeping under your eaves, act now. 

Cut such plants back, not to the ground, but far enough to keep them where you want them to grow. You can tidy them a little more later in the year. But for now, it’s important to prevent a small problem from becoming a big one. 

Nigel Colborn offered tips on how to cut back climbing plants so that they do not cause any damage

Plants covering your house walls can be surprisingly sneaky. So check any downpipes and pull out long stems that have been growing out of sight. ­

Sometimes TV or wi-fi server cables are concealed behind downpipes, so make sure you don’t sever one of those. 

Rampant clematis such as C. armandii and C. montana are especially nifty about running over ground, before climbing nearby walls, fences or trees. 

So check borderbacks or shrubberies for wandering plants. Vigorous climbers which are unlikely to cause harm are better left until summer’s end. That applies to rambling and climbing roses, summer jasmine, repeat-flowering honeysuckles and others.


Penstemons and several other perennials flower early in summer, but lose their mojo by mid to late July. Tall campanulas and early-flowering achilleas do that, as well as certain daisies. Try cutting some or all of them back. 

Make your cut close to the base of the plant. Doing that will nudge healthy plants into producing new flowering shoots. Those will develop over the coming few weeks to supply a fresh, colourful show. But beware — many early perennials don’t re-flower.

UK-based garden expert said penstemons and other perennials flower early in summer but lose mojo by mid to late July. Added that tall campanulas, pictured, are among the plants to do so


Tall euphorbias — especially E. characias — will be carrying ugly, dead or dying stems from last winter. Those should be removed. Make your cut as close to the ground without damaging the base of the plant. 

Euphorbias exude an unpleasant and toxic latex at the point where the stem is cut. If you don’t wash that off your secateurs as soon as you’ve finished cutting, their blades will become sticky and unpleasant to use.

 Hot water and an old nail brush are helpful here. When they’re clean, wipe them. Leave your secateurs somewhere warm to dry. Finally, use mineral oil to lubricate the join.

He also advised to cut the old stems of tall euphorbias, especially E.characias, pictured, and to make the cut as close as possible to the ground without damaging the base of the plant


No apologies for naming an old favourite. Common as unsuccessful prime minister wannabes and almost as colourful, buddleja is as much for butterflies as for people. From July, the flower heads carry hundreds of small flowers.

Each bloom is loaded with nectar and is as fragrant by day as after dark. Any shrub that can invade railway lines with such zest has to be easy to grow. There are lovely varieties with flowers in rosy mauve, soft lilac blue or white. 

Grow buddleja in full sun almost anywhere. For butterfly attraction, prune it back hard every year in late March.

Nigel says that buddleja davidii, pictured, are loaded with nectar and as fragrant by day as after dark


 My clematis plants are ailing. The older leaves have a grey surface and are becoming deformed. Even the flower buds seem to lose colour and don’t open properly. They were doing well until recently. 

Mrs D. Elder, Leeds.

 The problem is powdery mildew. In many regions, clematis grew extremely well during the early part of the growing season. That was caused by plentiful rain and excellent growing conditions.

 More recently, excessive heat and now drought have made all that lush growth vulnerable to mildew. That is partly why the disease has struck varieties which usually stay clean and healthy. 

Water their roots regularly. Do that in the early morning, before temperatures have risen. If you water them later in the day, take care to avoid wetting the leaves.

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