Summer is (nearly) a-coming in...

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Summer is just around the corner and our gardens are buzzing with life; insects flitting from flower to flower, busy nesting birds and fledglings waiting for their next meal.

The first blossom has fallen and the early summer flowers and shrubs are filled with buds.

Philadelphus, mock orange and lilacs are beginning to open their heavily-scented flowers, which for me always marks the start of summer.

The tapestry of green leaves is a great backdrop for early flowering perennials such as bearded iris, lupins, erysimums, herbaceous geraniums and geums.

Bedding plant season is now fully under way. Bedding is a fabulous way to add vibrant colour throughout the summer. These plants can be hardened off now, but beware of late frosts.

Colour-schemed baskets are very in-vogue at the moment. For a vibrant display, try hot pink geraniums, white bacopa, baby pink diascias and fresh green and white nepeta. Alternatively, to achieve a contemporary feel, black and cream petunias with vanilla African marigolds and golden lysmachia give a striking display, particularly against a light coloured wall. For best results add a slow release fertiliser when potting, water daily, feed weekly and dead head regularly.