Head Gardener at Horatio’s Garden Salisbury, Stephen Hackett, has brought you July’s tips. The month offers you all the chance to simply sit and enjoy the fruits of your labour thanks to careful planting…
July is somehow a tricky month for gardeners. After all the frantic work of spring, and the excitement as seeds germinate and flowers burst forth, there is less to do. Even the chance of a rest – a holiday, perhaps? But there’s the rub: gardens and holidays do not make happy (flower) bedfellows.
I’m lucky at Horatio’s Garden, as the ever-dutiful and hardworking volunteers will happily look after things if I am away. That said, the garden is planted in such a way as to minimise the need for watering in even the hottest, driest weather. A perennial such as Eryngium (Sea Holly) will absolutely thrive in the sun, as plants with silvery foliage generally do – a useful rule of thumb. The only watering that needs doing is to keep the displays of pots and planters going, as they’re at their lushest now: looking good, but always thirsty. I always try to group pots together, primarily for aesthetic reasons, but also because closely packed pots give each other a bit of shade which reduces water loss during the day.
We’re all now having to think about how best to adapt our gardening to the likelihood of hotter summers (though no-one seemed to have told June this year about this), as well as other consequences of climate change. That way we can create communities of plants suited to our gardens, more likely to thrive, and better able to sustain the pollinating insects such as bees which are also a crucial element of the garden’s ecosystem.
Although the summer is in full swing, it’s never too early to start planning ahead. Bulb catalogues are now appearing – we use De Jager bulbs – so sit in the garden with a cool drink and make a list of bulbs for next spring.
It’s also a good time to sow seeds and take cuttings too. Traditionally, July was rose-grafting time, but if that’s too much like hard work for you (it is for me) then get some biennials going. Foxgloves, Honesty, Sweet Williams and Wallflowers can all be sown now, covered with a layer of potting grit and left in a cold frame. They should germinate and establish nicely over the coming weeks, ready to be planted out in the autumn for flowering next season.
When you’re not relaxing or off on your holiday, keep deadheading to prolong the flowering season. Most flowering plants will respond well, but dahlias and sweetpeas absolutely insist on being picked regularly, so you can fill your vases at the same time as keeping the borders colourful.
Fingers crossed you’ve already got some great ideas for next year’s garden!