Fabulous plants for July

There are so many wonderful plants to recommend at this time of year it’s hard to draw up a short list, but here are just a few of my favourites for July interest:

Clematis Fujimusume AGM

Clematis have to be one of the most popular flowers grown in the UK, and rightly so. There are so many to choose from with colours right across the range, and by mixing varieties you can have something flowering all year round.  They can get a bit big though (!) so I was delighted to discover Clematis Fujimusume AGM a few years ago.

Clematis Fujimusume

This is a compact climber, at about 1.2-1.5m high, suitable to grow in pots and it has MASSIVE flowers!  They are a really lovely blue colour (sometimes described as ‘Wedgewood blue’) with a pale yellow centre, and in my opinion this plant looks good growing next to pretty much anything.  What’s more this is a Clematis that can cope with shade, plus it flowers for months over the summer.  Fujimusume isn’t highly scented, but with everything else it’s got going for it, I can live with that!

Rosa ‘The Generous Gardener’

Rosa The Generous Gardener

I have to admit I’m not an expert on roses but when I was looking for a climbing rose for my own garden this was top of my list. Although ‘The Generous Gardener’ is a tall shrub rose (about 5’ high) I have trained it as a climber on a fairly shady wall, and it’s perfect as it doesn’t get too high (maximum 10’).  New buds are pink and the flowers are a beautiful soft pink, with petals turning creamy white before they fall.  It’s a repeat flowerer too which I think is important for a rose when it’s planted in a key position in the garden.  I chose this variety not just because of its disease resistance, beautiful flower shape and colour (and a great name!), but because it has a lovely scent too – which after all is one of the major reasons for growing roses.

Roses are best grown in good soil with regular moisture and feeding.  Deadheading throughout the season will prolong flowering.

There are so many roses to choose from that it can be a bit bewildering (and I speak from experience!), so it’s important to research ultimate size and vigour of plants as well as shade tolerance and of course the length of their flowering period and strength of scent.  If you can get out to visit rose gardens at this time of year, it’s a great way to see the massive variety of roses at their best.

Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’
Ornamental grasses have become very popular garden plants over recent years. And it’s not surprising given their long period of interest (often right through the winter).

Pennisetum 'Fairy Tails' in July

Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’ in July

For a sunny garden with light, well-drained soil Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’ is a lovely choice.  More upright than many Pennisetum (or fountain grass) varieties, it has lovely pale pink flowers from midsummer onwards and makes a beautiful low hedge (although its foliage will die back over winter).

Pennisetum 'Fairy Tails' in autumn as the flowers fade in colour

Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’ in autumn as the flower colour fades

It’s such a tactile (and neat) plant it works really well next to a path or seating area.

Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’
Hemerocallis (or daylilies) are very easy perennials to grow for midsummer colour (generally yellows, oranges, reds and some pinks).  They form clumps of strappy bright green foliage (which can provide a great contrast in texture to many other summer flowering perennials so valuable on that count alone) and they are generally tough and reliable plants.

Hemerocallis Stafford

Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’ is an evergreen daylily with striking red flowers with a yellow throat.  It makes a real statement in a summer border, contrasting well with hot colours as well as blues and purples.  Happy in average soil and also clay, they really are easy to grow – as long as they’ve got a reasonable amount of moisture and good light levels.

Trachelospermum jasminoides
This is an evergreen climber I wouldn’t be without.  It has glossy bright green pointed leaves, a lovely twining habit (making it ideal to grow through trellis panels) and is covered in clusters of delicate, star-shaped, jasmine-scented white flowers in midsummer. Hardly surprising then that it’s commonly known as the ‘Star Jasmine’ or referred to as an ‘evergreen Jasmine’.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Trachelospermum jasminoides is quite a large plant so it will need good support and space to spread.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Also, it’s a little on the tender side – but given a well-drained soil and a fairly sheltered position, should cope very well through even freezing winter weather.  Highly recommended!

To get more inspiration about fantastic plants to grow for midsummer interest, check out a couple of my previous blogs:

Flowering shrubs for hot dry gardens and Make room for Pollinators

Picture credits: Janet Bligh & Firgrove Photographic

Jobs for the garden in July

water your garden

Watering is key during prolonged dry spells at this time of year – and not just for your herbaceous planting.  Don’t forget to keep any eye on any recently planted trees, hedging and shrubs.  Lawns can be left (unless they were laid recently) – even if they go dry and brown, they will recover with a bit of rain.

TREES
Ornamental and fruiting Cherry trees (Prunus) should be pruned in midsummer.

HEDGES & TOPIARY
If you trim your box hedging and topiary now, it should stay looking neat for the rest of the year, though you might want to clip it over lightly in September too.  Avoid clipping box plants in hot weather or bright sunlight as the cut areas might burn and turn brown.

SHRUBS & CLIMBERS
WisteriaPrune whippy summer growth of Wisteria to within five of six buds of the main stems, and cut main stems back if they have outgrown their space.

Deadhead roses and once they’ve finished their first flowering flush, feed them with rose food or general purpose feed (making sure to water in the granules for easy absorbtion).

If you grow Philadelphus, make sure to prune your shrubs on an annual basis after flowering.  Mature congested shrubs in particular should be pruned by taking out the oldest stems at the base to ensure the production of healthy new flowering stems for next year.

Take cuttings of evergreen shrubs such as Camellia and Rhododendrons and prune established Weigela florida after flowering.

PERENNIALS

Cut back hardy Geraniums if they’ve finished flowering. This will encourage new foliage, and possibly new flowers later in the summer

Japanese Anemone by Firgrove PhotographicFeed late flowering perennials such as Japanese Anemone & Asters (sprinkle & water in a general purpose fertiliser).

Cut back hardy Geraniums if they’ve finished flowering. This will encourage new foliage, and possibly new flowers later in the summer.

Divide old clumps of bearded Iris which have become congested, and replant them.

Regularly dead head annuals and perennials such as daylilies (Hemerocallis) and Helenium. Knautia, Scabiosa and Salvia.  Use secateurs, snipping stems as low as possible to avoid leaving unsightly stubs.
Lupins by Firgrove Photographic

Cut back old flower stems of Delphiniums and Lupins to their base.

BULBS
Plant autumn-flowering bulbs such as Colchicum and autumn Crocus.

LAWN CARE
Raise the blade height of your lawn mower in hot and dry weather. Letting it grow slightly longer will help keep it green. Avoid laying any new turf at this time of year.

POND CARE
Top up your pond when the water level drops due to evaporation in hot weather (preferably from water butts not tap water).

CONTAINER PLANTS & ANNUALS
Regularly add liquid feed to pots and hanging baskets.  If you’re going away, move all your pots to a cool shady spot where they won’t dry out so quickly.
NB this information applies to gardens in the UK and of course, you need to take account of your own local weather conditions when carrying out any work in the garden.

If you’re growing fruit & veg. or flowers for cutting, take a look at my blog on Jobs for the productive garden in July.

Picture credits:  Janet Bligh & Firgrove Photographic

Jobs for the productive garden in July

Lots to do in July if you’re growing fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers for cutting!

CUTTING GARDEN
Keep cutting Sweet peas and Cosmos regularly to encourage more flowers.

KITCHEN GARDEN
Cut and dry (or freeze) herbs.

Drying lavender

Cut Lavender for drying and take cuttings of woody herbs such as Lavender, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.

Keep sowing salad vegetables and herbs regularly.  There’s still time to sow carrot & parsnip seeds.  Sow salads and spinach for autumn as well as spring cabbage.

Tidy strawberry beds when fruiting is over – compost any straw, shear the plants to about 5cm from the ground (removing all the rubbish), add fertiliser and water well.  If you want to grow new plants, leave some of the stronger old plants alone and pin down the runners.  These will form new plants with roots and can be cut away from the main plant and replanted in autumn.

redcurrants blackcurrantsHarvest berries & currants.  Cut out the fruited stems of summer raspberries & loganberries. Protect ripening fruit trees (cherry, plum, peach, nectarine) from birds.

Thin out heavy crops of plums, apples & pears to avoid branches breaking with the weight, and prune overlong shoots on trained fruit trees such as espaliers, cordons & arches.

Tip-prune figs to encourage bushier growth & more fruit buds (pinch out new growth beyond 5 or 6 leaves).

Remove surplus leaves and sideshoots on grape vines to stop them shading the fruit.

Beans

Pick courgettes, cucumbers, and beans regularly or they will spoil, and harvest autumn-planted onions, garlic & shallots when ready.

When early crops are over, clear the beds and sprinkle organic fertilizer, fork over the soil and keep them free of weeds.

PESTS AND DISEASES
Use a copper-based fungicide to prevent blight on potatoes and tomatoes.  Check brassicas for Cabbage white butterfly eggs.

WATERING
Keep up with your watering.  Giving plants a good soaking in the evening is most effective.  While you have the hose out damp down the greenhouse floor to keep the atmosphere moist and to discourage red spider mites.

Picture credits:  Janet Bligh

Highlights from the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show

 

Crowds at Chelsea

I went to the Chelsea Flower Show twice this year – once on Press Day and then again later in the week as a paying visitor.  Seems a bit OTT I guess, but I really enjoy going twice as both trips have their advantages.  The obvious upside to Press Day is the lack of crowds and the fact that you can see everything without fighting to get to the front of the throng.  But I do enjoy going when the show is open as there’s so much more atmosphere.  And there’s such a lot to take in that I always see something new on my second visit.

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge Garden by Sean Murray proved a big hit with the crowds

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge Garden by Sean Murray proved a big hit with the crowds

And this year it felt like there was more variety than usual in the style of gardens on show.  Probably because two of the main gardens did something a little different – they weren’t perfect!   There were seedheads, dead leaves and patches of bare earth and they just seemed altogether more realistic and made a refreshing change from all that stunning perfection which we’re so used to seeing at Chelsea!

The Best Show Garden award went to Dan Pearson for the Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden which was incredibly well put together.

Dan Pearson

The landscaping and attention to detail was so convincing, it really did feel like a wild garden.  With enormous rock formations, a natural stream and wonderful planting, it was a fantastic achievement.

Chatsworth Garden

Another gold medal winner which I really liked was A Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse by L’Occitane, designed by James Basson.

Perfumer's Garden

This was such an evocative garden that you really did feel like you were in the south of France (or at least you did when the sun came out!).  It was beautifully put together.

L'Occitane garden

Most of the main show gardens were stuffed to the gills with gorgeous planting, and perfect hard landscaping as is par for the course at Chelsea.

Chris Beardshaw
I liked Chris Beardshaw’s planting and the steel wall panels he incorporated into the Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden.

Steel panels

The Brewin Dolphin Garden by Darren Hawkes featured more than 40,000 hand-cut pieces of slate which were used to create steps and suspended platforms.  Talk about attention to detail!   The woodland planting was beautifully done too, and the overall effect very cool and calm.

Brewin Dolphin

Matthew Wilson’s Royal Bank of Canada garden featured some lovely curving decking and stylish furniture.

Royal Bank of Canada garden
The cool simplicity of the Beauty of Islam garden by Kamelia Bin Zaal was a lovely contrast to a lot of show gardens where there’s so much going on you sometimes don’t know where to look.  Like the Provencal garden this really came to life in the sunshine.

Beauty of Islam garden

I liked Adam Frost’s Homebase Garden – Urban Retreat.

Homebase Garden

It had quite a simple overall design with strong lines, and repetition through shapes and planting, and an open feel.  It felt like a really comfortable space.  Lovely timber pavilion too.

timber pavilion

The Fresh Gardens section is billed as the ‘cutting-edge face’ of the Chelsea Flower Show.  I find some of the gardens just a little too cutting-edge for my tastes but there are often interesting elements to admire (!).

The World Vision garden by John Warland was really striking with planting boxes set into a large reflective pool.

World Vision

Dark water pools were also used to good effect in the Breathrough Breast Cancer garden by Ruth Willmott.  They provided a really good contrast with the soft planting which was predominantly pink, green and white.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer

In the plant marquee there’s always such a lot too see it can be a bit overwhelming.

I’m not a massive fan of Chrysanthemums but enjoyed the striking ice-cream cones on display by the National Chrysanthemum Society.

Chyrsanthemums

My favourite in the marquee this year was something close to my heart – Time for Tea by Interflora.  It was a really clever design and ‘inspired by the nation’s love of a good cuppa’.

Time for TeaI’ll drink to that!

 

Photo credits: Janet Bligh