We love July

This is the time of the year when the garden is at its glorious best.
Perennials, Shrubs and Annuals provide a riot of colour and containers and hanging baskets are looking lush with an abundance of fresh new flowers. You can prolong flowering and growth by deadheading old flowers, a weekly feed, and of course plentiful and regular watering.
In the kitchen garden salads and summer vegetables are growing away well, so we can look forward to the delicious tastes and aromas of fresh, homegrown produce, and tucking into the fruits of our labours…

But Nature is never static and in July early flowering plants like delphiniums, lupins, iris, poppies and foxgloves start to fade. Delphiniums and lupins will flower again in late Summer if you keep dead-heading them (i.e. removing faded blooms), although the display won’t be quite as impressive as it was in late Spring. You can replace these fading beauties with some of the late Summer flowering plants, many of which originate from the Americas, such as coreopsis, rudbeckia with its daisy-shaped flowers, heleniums, sunflowers, cosmos, penstemon and of course the Dahlia, flowering in all shapes and colours (except blue!)  and originating from Mexico.  Continuing with the global theme the plants originating from South Africa such as crocosmia, gladioli and agapanthus all provide vibrant colour until the autumn frosts.  For a tropical-looking display, try growing cordylines, phormiums, cannas and tall grasses together with the spectacular orange flowers of tithonia rotundifolia.

Loving the lavender…
For midsummer scent and colour you can’t beat the glorious blues and purples of lavender. Originating from the warm climates of Southern Europe, they’ve been a garden plant in this country since the 1500’s. Lavender loves the sun and will thrive in well-drained soil. The English variety is a lot hardier than its French counterpart!

Shrubs… so many varieties!
Fuchsias and Hydrangeas both require moist soil containing plenty of organic matter and will grow well in sun or light shade. For height in a sunny spot, buddleias, aka the ‘butterfly bush’ are fantastic for attracting insects with their white, pink or mauve flowers, depending on the variety.

Feeling tubby?
Summer tubs and containers come in all shapes and sizes to provide a focal point on your terrace or patio. Plant up for summer colour using a variety of heights, flower colours and leaf shapes, as apart from looking gorgeous, some nice variety in your planting will be better for attracting the butterflies and the bees. Use single and double flowers for a variety of shapes and try grasses for height. Scabious, verbena, salvias and sedums work well and you can use hardy geraniums or thyme to trail over the edge of your pot to give a lovely natural look.

Can I grow a climber in a pot?
This is a question we are asked often! The answer is ‘Yes’ as long as you use a compact climber such as the patio clematis, which grows to 1.2m (4 ft) and has flowers smothering the whole plant from top to bottom, whereas taller-growing varieties carry flowers at the top of the stem only. Or try the stunning Trachelospermum ’Star Jasmine’ in as large a pot as possible using a John Innes based compost. Climbers like a cool damp root system so to keep the root ball cool, place a couple of smaller containers in front of the pot containing the climber to keep the sun’s heat off the roots. You could plant up these smaller pots with perennial plants for extra colour and interest. Another idea is to plant up round the base of the climber, (i.e. in the same pot) using grasses, hostas or ferns to help keep the compost cool in hot weather. As with all container-grown plants deadhead, water and feed regularly.

When to water?
Water late in the evening, or even better early in the morning. As soon as the sun comes up, plants start to use water and to grow, so a nice damp soil helps the plant stay fresh and start immediate growth first thing in the morning.  Watering in the evenings leaves the plants damp overnight which can attract slugs and snails. Whichever time you choose, its important to get water to the roots rather than over the foliage.
Plants in hanging baskets, and container-grown plants will need regular watering, even after it’s been raining!

Any newly planted perennials, herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees need to be watered thoroughly – but not so frequently that water gets down to the tap roots. You want those roots to go down looking for moisture, because a strong root system will stand the plant in good stead in any future periods of dry weather.
We had some good rainfall in June which helped dampen the soil so now is a good time to seal in this moisture by adding a mulch to the soil. It can be garden compost, soil improver, or farmyard manure, and this is especially important around roses.

Vegetables and herbs
There is still time to sow or plant carrots, peas, French beans, cabbage, turnips, lettuces and radishes.

Last but not least
Please don’t forget the humble houseplants which gave so much pleasure during lockdown and helped green up and beautify your living space. Many like chlorophytum (spider plant), sansevieria and spathiphyllum (peace lily) are beneficial in improving air quality, and all will benefit from regular feeding and watering to maintain them in good condition.

In these difficult times lots of our customers have become first-time gardeners and taken huge pleasure from their new-found enthusiasm, finding it hugely rewarding as so many others have before.  Gardening is not always easy and factors like weather, or pests and diseases can sometimes be disheartening.  Please remember that the Van Hage team is always here to help with any questions you may have, whether its about putting plants in the right place, soil conditions required or growing your own fruit, herbs and vegetables. Our social-distancing measures are all still very much in place and whether you’re a new customer or a regular visitor we’ll be very happy to see you.

The Van Hage Team