It has been an unusual year so far – above average rain and a decidedly more “British” climate. Plants which love moisture have done unexpectedly well in our garden and it has more of an appearance of an English garden than usual. This has skewed the annual maintenance programme somewhat.
We are doing more of:
Cutting the grass
Cutting back spring flowering shrubs – they have grown prolifically
Feeding plants to support all that extra growth
Weeding with more ease (the damp soil is much easier to cultivate) but weeding more often.
Young trees and shrubs have put on a lot of growth and established well – but I need to be alert to a sudden and sustained drought as they have a lot of young growth to support.
Meanwhile we are doing less:
Here are some of the things you could expect to be doing in July:
Dead head flowering plants regularly. If they set seed they may stop flowering for the rest of the year. Plants to be particularly vigilant about include cosmos, roses, some salvias, dahlias, sweetpeas, bedding plants such as perlagoniums, petunias and begonias.
Cut back leggy growth to encourage bushy plants and more flowering stems.
Now is the time to cut back bearded irises and expose the rhizome to sunlight (if you did not do so last month) and it is an excellent time to divide them. Irises go into a dormant phase in July so they transplant well. Just make sure that when you lift and divide the rhizomes each segment has a green shoot sprouting from it.
If your border develops a bare spot then you can camouflage it with a plant in a pot or with a garden ornament – I find an artfully positioned empty terracotta pot can usefully fill a space caused by a tragedy in the flower bed and I have several old galvvnised watering cans which migrate around the garden as needs allow. Don’t try to transplant anything at this time of year (except bearded irises or succulents) as the transplanted plant will find it very hard to get enough nourishment – wait until September.
Should the weather turn out to be hot and dry in July after all then don’t worry if the lawn goes brown – it will recover.
If a plant in a bed looks as though it is drying out too much give it a big water and then mulch on top of it to retain the moisture in the soil for as long as possible.
In normal years July and August are all about keeping things going through the hot summer months. How easy you find this depends on whether you have the right plants for your garden. Take a few minutes to assess what is doing really well and make a note of it – and plant more of these in future. It is far easier to go with the flow and grow plants which are happy in your garden’s conditions than plant things which are beautiful but unsuitable. They will need a lot of extra maintenance to keep it content.