July is a wonderful month in the garden. After the hard work, gardens are now looking amazing, with shrubs, herbaceous perennials, bedding plants, containers and hanging baskets full of colour and life, giving you the ‘wow’ factor in spades. If ever there was a time to relax, sit back and enjoy your outdoor space, it’s now… or invite friends and family over for a barbecue and make the most of the abundance of freshly grown salads, fresh herbs and perhaps your own home-grown summer vegetables.

July highlights

Roses have always been one of the most well-loved and popular plants grown in the garden. The species first grew approx. 35-50 million years ago and have been grown in gardens for at least 5.000 years! There’s such a huge range, whether climbing, rambling, shrub roses or the smaller patio roses for tubs and containers, and so many colours, some bicoloured, some which change colour as they age - but never a true blue - and many glorious scents.

One thing to remember with roses after the initial first flush of flowers is to deadhead and give a good feed, using a general-purpose feed, Rose feed or a liquid tomato feed. In dry weather, water in the fertilizer so it can dissolve into the soil allowing the rose to take up the nutrients it needs, and a healthy, well-fed rose is less prone to mildew, rust, black spot etc. Some old- fashioned shrub roses that only flower once in early summer can be pruned now, and some will produce a good crop of rose hips late on, good for autumn interest.

Plants to enhance your roses would include shrubs, whether deciduous or evergreen. These form the backbone of the garden, with differing leaf shapes and flower colours providing good contrast to rose flowers. Choisya ternata has single, scented white flowers. The striking Sambucus nigra ‘black lace’ with its deep coloured foliage and stems and delicate pink flowers, will provide height. Philadelphus or ‘mock orange’ has single or double white flowers and a favourite variety, loved by bees, is ‘Belle Etoile’ . Another shrub often associated with roses is lavender, although roses love hummus-rich, heavy soils, while lavenders prefer very well drained gritty soils in the warmest part of the garden so they are not ideally suited to growing together.

You could use Clematis to give some height behind roses to cover walls, pergolas and fences. It will provide an abundance of flowers over a long period, and it looks wonderful grown together with climbing roses.

Herbaceous perennials flower year after year, and come in a multitude of shapes, sizes, and varieties, with a huge range of leaf textures and flower colours. Some that work well with roses include Asters, with their single daisy-like flowers in shades of blues and pinks; Nepeta; Echinaceas in many different colours; the white and cream flowers of Leucanthemums, and the blue bell-shaped flowers of Campanula lactiflora. To provide interest along the front of your border, you could try some hardy geraniums such as ‘Roxanne’, or Dianthus.

The Longest Day

As we reach July, the longest day has passed, and if temperatures remain high, it’s some of the plants originating from the Southern hemisphere that produce the best flowers for summer and beyond. Crocosmias are a clump-forming herbaceous perennial with grass-like leaves and spikes of flower buds opening up into oranges, red or yellowish flowers depending on varieties. Agapanthus, have exotic -looking, ball-shaped flowers ball in blues or white, carried on long straight stems and like a sunny position in fertile well drained soil . They’re great for containers, but you would need to protect them in cold winter weather. Some Agapanthus are hardier than others, and as a general rule, the thicker, wider type of foliage varieties are not as hardy as the thinner more grass like varieties. Another excellent plant for colour at this time of the year is Alstroemeria, commonly called the Peruvian Lily, which will flower from now until the Autumn.

A plant for a cooler part of the garden is the hardy Fuschia, available in many colours, very reliable and long-flowering. It was first discovered on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in about the 1690’s by a French monk, and was subsequently named after the German botanist, Leonard Fuchs.

Keep your pots, tubs, and containers looking gorgeous

To keep containers and hanging baskets flowering through the Summer, make sure they are watered regularly, feed weekly using a liquid tomato feed and dead head often, by removing any flowers that have gone over. Van Hage always has a range of flowering plants in stock that can be planted up into tubs or baskets for some instant colour in the garden. The combinations you could try are endless, and our staff are always happy to give advice and ideas.

In the vegetable area, keep sowing carrots, spring cabbage, lettuce, radish, Chinese cabbage and pak-choi. Keep your vegetables well-watered and enjoy them as soon as they are ready. Freshly harvested new potatoes are unbeatable in a salad with some chives or spring onion, and maybe a handful of fresh peas…at this time of year, it’s all about simplicity.

So whether it’s a place to relax, see friends and family, or just a spot where you can sit back and do nothing, enjoy your summer garden. For pure pleasure and sheer enjoyment the beauty, colour and scents of summer plants and flowers can never be beaten.

The Van Hage Team