Garden Diary: July

Bulbs and flowers

There’ll be lots of exuberant growth, so it’s time to cut back plants that have flowered. This will encourage a second flush on repeat flowerers and the production of fresh foliage. Removing old leaves and stems will let the late flowering plants get some light, air and water and expose any hidden weeds.

Flowers can be a little sparse in July. Bridge the gap with good , long-term bloomers that are also drought tolerant like the salvias, erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ and penstemons. If you plant out potted perennials now, do keep them really well watered until they have got their feet down.

If your soil is on the poor side, give a little feed to encourage the new growth.

Lift and divide bearded irises.

Start planting autumn-flowering bulbs now.

Let some stems stay on favourites, like foxgloves, so that you can collect seed when ripe.

Greenhouse and containers

 Make sure that containers don’t dry out. Keep the plants trimmed and apply liquid feed regularly.

Keep tomatoes and cucumbers trained in. Pinch out side-shoots on tomatoes and cut them back on cucumbers. Start liquid feeding both every 10 days as soon as the first trusses of fruit set.

Apply a weekly liquid feed to houseplants.

Trees, shrubs and climbers

Another reminder that large plants and trees take a while to establish, so keep this year’s plantings well watered in dry weather. Long, deep drinks are far better than frequent sprinklings. They encourage the roots to go deeper rather than stay near the surface. The plant will be more drought-tolerant in the future.

Deadhead roses to encourage more flowers. Remember to cut back to a node beneath the dead flowers.

Summer prune wisteria.

The prunus family, ornamentals and fruit, like plums and cherries, can be pruned now that the weather is warm. Wait for a dry spell.

Continue to prune shrubs that have already flowered this year. Feed and water after pruning.

Trim back lavender after flowering but don’t cut into old wood.

Stay vigilant for pests and diseases. Treat any black spot on roses and scab on apples as early as possible. Wash off or spray aphids that may appear on the soft, new growth.

Produce

Lift early potatoes and shallots as they become ready.

Keep beans well watered.

If not already done, net soft fruit. Peg the ends down to stop birds getting in and then being trapped.

Start harvesting gooseberries and loganberries as they ripen.

Lawns

Keep the grass trimmed, but don’t cut in drought conditions. Raise the cut in hot weather and apply nitrogen-rich feed to any bare patches.

Wildlife

 An extra water source will be much appreciated on hot sunny days.

In very dry weather, worms go deeper into the soil.  Putting out small amounts of cat or dog food can help blackbirds, robins, frogs and hedgehogs ….growing chicks and newly fledged birds can manage this soft offering too.

Prolonged wet weather washes the caterpillars from the trees, so do keep the feeders topped up so the adults tits can stay well fed while they search for food for their chicks. Peanuts should always be fed from the wire feeders as whole nuts can choke the birds.