gardening nature's way Part Four of a Four-Part Series. Summer In the Garden story by claire schuchman he bulbs have finished blooming, the air is warm, and the days are long. Spring shrubs, rhododendron, forsythia, lilac, and a few viburnums are finishing their bloom. Summer flowering shrubs like hydrangeas and shrub roses are just beginning to take over the show, while annuals perennials and grasses add to the texture and color of the garden. The air is alive with the sounds of birds chirping and bees buzzing. Spring rains have watered the earth, trees have leafed out and the leafy canopy casts a dappled shade. Summer is here, the time we all wait for. Time when kids play until the street lights come on, neighbors swap a story and reconnect after their long winter's rest. The garden is bursting with new growth. Spring cleanup is done, the mulching is finished, the trimming is done, the hammock is up, Aaahhh, now it's time to enjoy. Soaker hoses allow the summer gardener to water in an easy, cost effective manner. Install a small pond, stock it with frogs and let them take care of those pesky garden insects. 42 mtl may 2010 So what does the gardener need to do to help keep his garden healthy and happy in the summer? One of the most important tasks is watering. With the onset of a changing climate, watering has become more critical and more expensive. What can be done to water efficiently? Drip irrigation is the key. This can be accomplished several ways but one of the easiest and most cost effective ways is to use soaker hoses. Soaker hoses lie on the ground under the mulch and weep water out about 2 feet. If you use the soaker hoses in conjunction with a timer, you can set the timer and go to work--or take a nap in the hammock. Nice. Further, what if you capture your rain water in a rain barrel and water the garden with water that nature has provided? Now you have saved yourself a tidy sum. This is the way of the future my friends. When using drip irrigation it doesn't matter if you water in the morning, afternoon or evening. The water will never touch the foliage causing foliage diseases, and it won't evaporate before it reaches its intended target. This method is efficient because it delivers the water directly to the root zone of the plant. I am installing soakers in more clients' gardens than ever before. Every gardener deals with diseases and pests at some point. The best gardens, with all the "right" plants, perfectly watered, and well trimmed will still have pests and disease now and then. The birds take care of myriad pests, small amphibians like snakes and frogs also eat pests, valuable pest controlling insects are a big help. But what happens when all those things aren't enough? The latest term for responsible pest and disease control is Integrated Pest Management or IPM. Simply put, IPM is using the least toxic method first, and systematically going from the least to the most drastic method. I am an organic landscaper but that doesn't mean I will NEVER use