Time to get out in the garden

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Stone Cross Garden Centre on the jobs to do this month.

Herbaceous Perennials come in many different shapes and sizes. Small low growing types such as Hardy Geraniums growing under a foot in height. Taller varieties such as Verbena bonariensis that can grow up to 7ft – but we can guarantee there is one for every garden.

Bright red Crocosmia flower in bloom with buds SUS-170525-124211001

Bright red Crocosmia flower in bloom with buds SUS-170525-124211001

Most of the perennials though die back in winter with the roots surviving before reshooting in the spring. However, there are some other varieties that are evergreen such as Heuchera and Bergenia.

With hundreds of varieties of Herbaceous Perennials to choose from it can be difficult to choose the best ones for your garden. A few of my favourites for ensuring year round interest include:

Summer – Achillea “The Beacon.” Large flat headed soft-red flowers with yellow centres that glow in borders throughout the summer and they are drought tolerant too!

Autumn – Crocosmia “Emily McKenzie.” Fabulous sprays of orange flowers appear above green leaves. This plant adds bright impact to when planted in big drifts across a border.

Hardy geraniums

Hardy geraniums

Winter – Helleborus “niger.” The glorious Christmas Rose, white flowers from December well into the new year.

Spring – Erysimum “Bowles’s Mauve.” This everlasting vigorous wallflower offers colour for months on end but is at its best in spring.

Most important job in the garden in july

Watering is important for plants throughout July. If a plant goes without water it becomes stressed and often drops its leaves prematurely. While hanging baskets and patio pots often require watering daily in hot weather the same is not true of shrubs and trees. Watering shrubs daily can make the plant extremely lazy.

Once a week, possibly twice a week in arid or windy weather conditions water around the base of the plant directly into the soil. This will ensure the roots of the plant that require water are drenched. By not over-watering you will encourage the plants roots to go searching for water. The putting down of additional roots anchors the plant more securely in the ground. This will make the plant stronger and more resistant.

It is also important to hoe off weeds from around the base of your plants as they will be competing for water that needs to go to your plant and not make the weeds stronger. If the weeds are wrapped around the stems of your plants you can treat them with a gel based weed killer wiped directly onto the weeds leaves. This reduces the risk of spray weed killers getting onto your wanted plants foliage causing them to die as well as the weed! When the soil is moist help lock in moisture by mulching with a two to three inch layer of composted fine bark.

In the flowering garden

Keep dead heading the flowers in your hanging basket to ensure the plants bloom for longer. If you have been away and your basket is looking tired trim it back, give it a Tomato Feed and watch it grow on and flower with increased vigour. Even if your hanging basket and patio tubs are looking good a fortnightly feed combined with deadheading will ensure that they remain in top condition and flowering until late autumn.

July is a great time for taking cuttings and propagating plants such as Dianthus and Choisya. Use a gritty compost and hormone rooting powder to increase your chances of success.

- Ensure you dead head or pick the flowers from your Sweet Peas otherwise they will stop flowering

- Pruning of early flowering shrubs such as Philadelphus, Spirea and Weigelia can be undertaken. You can also trim leylandii hedges to stop them from becoming unruly.

- If you have hardy Geraniums, Lupins and Delphiniums that have stopped flowering cut them back. This will encourage fresh growth and encourage further blooms later in the year.

- Tie in the new growth of climbing plants to support and protect them from winds.

- Prune your Magnolia if it is required. This gives lots of time for it to regrow.

Pest control

Clematis wilt. This can cause previously healthy plants to collapse. It is often identifiable by a blackening of the leaves and leaf stalks. There is no chemical treatment available, so prevention is required. Mulching the roots with composted bark reduces root stress. If your leaves are affected, prune out the stems back to healthy unaffected growth. This material should be burned or disposed of in your council green waste bin. Do not try to compost.

Check Roses for aphids, black spot and powdery mildew. It can be treated with a combined fungicide and insecticide. If your non-climbing rose is badly infected with black spot it may be better to prune it back to a foot in height removing all leaves. Do not put in your compost bin. Keep your rose in good health by feeding fortnightly with a food high in potassium and magnesium and you will build up the plants natural resilience.

This is a month where bay trees suffer. Keep an eye out for scale insect activity. It is best treated by spraying with a systemic insecticide.

If your Cherry Laurel leaves are yellow or distorted it may be a sign of Powdery Mildew. This can be controlled with a fungicide.

Lawn care

Lawns need a weekly mow. However, it is advisable to set mowers to a higher level than at other to prevent grass from drying out. Also apply a summer lawn weed and feed grass treatment to reduce weeds. If you have brown patches in the lawn do not be alarmed. These will often disappear naturally.

Grow your own

Its time to harvest tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries and to keep harvesting, watering and feeding your fruit and vegetables with a fertiliser high in potassium to encourage them to keep producing. Grow bags can be very difficult to keep moist. One solution is to stand them in a grow bag tray. The water that escapes is collected and the roots can take it in as required.

Stop tomatoes from growing any higher once they have set five trusses and still continue to remove side shoots and ensure they do not dry out as this will lead to blossom end rot. Feeding is essential as the nutrients in the growing soil can become depleted very quickly.

Aubergines and pumpkins should be stopped from growing any longer in length or height once they have set six fruits.

Plant out Cauliflower, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Calabrese, Sweetcorn and Kale, Leeks, Radish and Spinach so that you have a succession of tasty produce. Remember when planting out Sweetcorn to plant in a grid formation rather than in rows so that they can cross pollinate.

Sow seeds of Cabbage, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Spring Cabbage, Broad Beans and French Beans.

Feed potatoes with potash to increase your yield. Earth up potatoes that are growing close to the surface of the soil so they do not turn green. If you do not have soil available or it is baked - use grass clippings.

If your Rhubarb is early cropping such as Timperley Early it is best to stop pulling it. This will allow it time to grow and return goodness to the roots ready to flourish again next year.

The runners on strawberries remember to plug them down into the soil. This will create a new plant for next year.

If your plum and cherry trees require pruning - do it early in July. Be careful as this will reduce the amount of fruit the tree produces this year.

The new canes of blackberries, raspberries and loganberries should be tied into supports using soft coated wire.

Birds enjoy the fruit on your trees and soft fruit bushes as much as we do. Cover them with netting or use a Buzz line. This is a special wire that is stretched between two posts. It makes a sound that is not heard by us but is heard by birds scaring them off.

Citrus fruits can be grown outside if the temperature at night is above 5oC, They are extremely hungry and will require weekly feeding with specific Citrus Foods or High Nitrogen fertilisers.