July is often one of the hottest months of the year and the perfect time to enjoy the outside living space and garden. It is really important to keep plants well watered, but use ‘grey’ water such as bath or washing up water wherever possible, and keep an eye on weeds. You can also now see what plants are working well in the garden, from both a colour mix and a landscaping perspective.
Summer in the garden should be a time of enjoyment spent without guilt. Richard Cumming, Managing Director, says, “There is always a lot to do in any plot and I have yet to see a garden that was complete. These are dynamic spaces; ever growing, changing and eventually dying. There is so much going on and always something to ponder on. Plants are gloriously complicated organisms whose evolution is designed to ensure their successful survival; they tolerate such a range of climatic extremes and adapt for each one. Their ability to produce the next generation is awe inspiring with techniques persuading insects and other organisms to help in the process of fertilisation and seed dispersal. It is really clever stuff.”
If you are still looking for inspiration then take a trip to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show which runs from 8-13 July and visit the special area Your Garden, Your Budget which has been created in collaboration with the Association of Professional Landscapers. They have built a number of showcase gardens that give practical solutions to design problems face by home gardeners and across a range of budgets.
Gardeners need to get to know their plants and know what makes them tick to get the best out of them, so it is important that you understand their needs at various stages of their life. Feeding for green growth is different from feeding for flowers. For flowers, you should use a high nitrogen feed for leaves and a high potash feed for flowers and fruits. High phosphate feeds will benefit root and shoot growth. Compound and straight fertiliser packs will have the information you need clearly marked to show whether they are high in N, P or K (nitrogen, phosphate or potash respectively).
Water is next on the list. Plants need moisture and air to grow properly. Crops such as apples, tomatoes or potatoes don’t like to go from one extreme to another as the fruit or the tubers will expand too quickly and ruin if rain comes after a long dry spell. It is best that they have a more even supply of moisture to get even growth and a better crop. You can help keep the water in the soil by adding a surface layer of bark chips or coarse rotted compost. Eventually the worms and other soil organisms will mix the mulch into the soil and improve it further.
Summer pruning and thinning can be helpful if you want to grow larger flowers or fruits. In a good blossom year when almost every flower sets a fruit, the plant can’t possibly support all of them and a bit of strategic thinning taking out the weaker fruits will give the others the chance to really develop. Pruning out surplus shoots helps preserve the shape of a plant, or, in the case of a fruit tree or bush, helps produce the right shape and framework for next year’s flowers, and most importantly lets light in, which will help ripen the crop.