This is what you’ve been waiting for – borders in full bloom and vegetables producing fine crops. Now’s the time to enjoy those long summer evenings relaxing and entertaining friends.
Although there’s plenty of work to be done, you can do it a more leisurely pace than during the hectic months of Spring. Take time to take a closer look – you’ll see some welcome visitors going about their work – like the bumble bees and hover flies – but also pests and disease. Aphids, for example, can be easily dealt with by simply squashing, so long as they haven’t taken over – so catch them early. And don’t forget to look after our feathered friends too – keep your birdbath topped up and enjoy watching them have a splash!
Our top tips for July are:
- Whether you’re a keen gardener or just starting out, now is a great time to take cuttings and try propagating your shrubs – it’s an easy way to quickly build up your stock of plants. Climbers such as passion flower, Solanum and Trachelospermum lend themselves well to semi-ripe cuttings, which can be taken from growth made in the current year once the stems have started to get woody at the base. Evergreen shrubs such as Artemisia, Berberis, Camellia, Ceanothus, Choisya, Cistus, Convolvulous cneorum and Viburnum can also be propagated this way. Go on – give it a try. Follow the RHS advice here – what have you got to lose?
- Deadhead roses to encourage new flowers. If you don’t the plant will send all its energy to the old flower heads to produce rose hips full of seed. You can just snap off the old flower heads. However, if you want to prolong the display into Autumn you’ll need to prune back to a bud in a leaf axil lower down the stem. Deadheading also helps to prevent disease as it encourages air circulation throughout the plant.
- After deadheading, give roses a feed to boost growth. It’s best to use a fertilizer designed specifically for roses, or one high in potash to encourage strong shoots. Fertilisers high in nitrogen will result in soft, sappy growth, which is more prone to attack from pests and diseases.
- Get organised for your holidays. Now’s the time to ‘book’ your neighbour, family or friend to call in to attend to the routine tasks of watering, mowing and harvesting your crops. Beans and courgettes always seem to come at once, so bribe your holiday helpers with free produce!
- Most importantly water, water and water again – giving priority to newly planted trees, shrubs and plants. Take advantage of any sudden summer showers and storms to collect rainwater via the guttering into a water butt and mulch your borders after watering to retain moisture.
Finally although we may be enjoying the sun and warmth of the Summer, start thinking ahead as you sit and admire your garden. Think about where you want colour and interest next year over a long cold drink while you peruse the catalogues and order your Spring-flowering bulbs in good time. Cheers!