July: relax and enjoy!
Bright blue cloudless skies, long warm sunny days and sultry evenings…it must be July! Regardless of what may have happened weather-wise during the year so far, July has always been one of my favourite months. With any luck, we’ll have lots of opportunities to spend a bit of time relaxing in our gardens with our friends and family.
As well as relaxation, July is also often a wonderful month for reflection and adventure. Reflection because it marks the beginnings of the second half of the year and a chance to look back on what’s happened over the last six months, and adventure because many of us will soon be taking a summer break from the ‘daily grind’. I don’t think the memories of joy and excitement as the long summer break from school stretched out before us ever really leaves us, however old we get. I certainly know a few teachers for whom the summer break means even more them now than it ever did when they were pupils themselves.
For our gardens, however, it is definitely rather less about reflection and adventure than relaxation and enjoyment. So, let’s take a look at some of the plants we’ll be able to enjoy this month, along with some of the tasks we probably should be doing if we can force ourselves out of our comfortable garden chairs...
This month's star plants
With so many of our favourite garden plants looking sensational at this time of year, July is a wonderful month to enjoy our gardens. We’ll see a riot of colour, with some fabulous floral displays from plants like Hemerocallis (pictured above), Lavendula, Fuschia, Rudbeckia & Penstemon.
Look out also for some of our taller perennials as well. Verbena bonariensis and Foeniculum ‘Purpureum’ (bronze fennel) add graceful height and colour to any mixed planting scheme, and they are just beginning to look fantastic this month. And don’t forget about all of the roses that perform brilliantly in July, as do sweet peas, Passiflora (passion flower) and some popular cultivars of Clematis. Breathtaking. This really is a month for abundance and colour.
This month's garden jobs
Yes, there is lots to love about the July and, fortunately for once, we can enjoy it without thinking about long list of jobs to do. It is, however, worth keeping on top of the lawn, cutting and edging it at least once a week to keep things looking tidy. The plants may be running riot, but a good-looking lawn always looks superb. If, on the other hand, warm and dry weather takes hold then we are probably better off leaving our lawns alone. Parched grass really doesn’t benefit from being cut, so let’s leave the mower in the shed and relax a bit.
The really good news is that with so many plants at their fullest there shouldn’t be too much need for weeding. Most weeds will probably be crowded out, and those that do try to make an appearance shouldn’t be too distracting from the picturesque displays all around us. Maybe a bit of ‘pottering’ weeding will be required, but hopefully nothing too time-consuming or energetic.
One really essential task that we really can't skimp on is to keep watering our pots, greenhouse crops and any other fruit and vegetables. Long sunny days may be lovely for us, but they can really stress our more vulnerable plants. Ideally, watering should be done at either end of the day so as to minimize evaporation, and always try to avoid splashing too much water on leaves and flowers to reduce the risk of scorching.
Finally, I would always recommend a little deadheading in order to prolong the floral display. Removing spent flowers prevents the plant trying to set seed and usually encourages fresh blooms. It’s really easy to do, and it can really make a difference.
And please don’t forget that this is a great time of year to be visiting gardens to be inspired and pick up fresh ideas. The National Garden Scheme website is well worth a look- just type in your postcode and it will bring up a list of all of the local gardens that are open to the public over the coming weeks. Some wonderful charities benefit from the NGS open gardens scheme, and it’s a great opportunity to visit lots of beautiful private gardens. I’d urge everyone to try to visit at least one new garden this summer if they can and help support the scheme and its beneficiaries.
Whatever the weather, have a wonderful July.
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.