Gardening in July

The herbaceous border comes into its own this month and, done well, carries a splendid display of colour. With careful choice and blending of plants, however, it can be highly decorative for most of the year. The use of plants which have coloured leaves, silver-grey, purple, and variegated, and using plants which are ‘architectural’ in form, so that their habit of growth and outline complements the flowering kinds, will make the border easy on the eye in or out of the flowering season.

Attention should be paid to the management of the soil, to provide a basis for good plants, and much of the work on this will be done in winter (see November, December). Then the choice of plants can come, and here it helps to note good plants at this time of year, in nurseries and other gardens, where one can see designs which need not necessarily be transferred complete, but can be modified to the pattern of one’s own garden.

Herbaceous plants in flower are Saya haematodes, kniphofias, hostas, day-lilies, veronicas, polemoniums, lilies, Shasta daisies, ligularias, rudbeckias, phlox, gaillardias, the blue thistle (eryngium) penstemons, and many, many others. The July gales will mean attention to staking; thunderstorms also often beat plants down and so it is doubly important to make sure that they are securely supported. Deadheading helps the appearance of the border.

herbaceous border

Bedding plants and half-hardy annuals, such as petunias, ageratums, fibrous begonias, nemesias, impatiens, nasturtiums, zinnias, dwarf phlox, salvias and lobelias, will be at their best, and one begins to think they are worth the trouble of early sowing, coddling in the greenhouse in spring, pricking out, hardening off and finally planting out of doors. Sweet peas will continue to need training and layering by now. Chrysanthemums can be stopped the second time in mid July if flowering is wanted at Christmas. They will also need disbudding every few days, as will dahlias, if really large flowers are wanted. Both will be the better for spraying to control capsid bug and greenfly early in the month. Lawn watering should not be neglected; if no rain occurs for several days which are hot and sunny as well, start watering, as waiting until the lawn is obviously gasping for it is too late, and the grass will be irremediably weakened. Continue to mow, without the grassbox attached.

Cut the fast growing hedges again, privet, Lontcera ntuda and the thorns, also start on most of those which grow at a more normal speed, such as beech, hornbeam, euonymus, hazel, holly and pyracantha. Conifer hedges can also be cut now, such as yew, thuja, juniper, cupressus and chamaecyparis. The. Pruning of early summer flowering shrubs should be completed; the late summer flowering kinds can be enjoyed, such as hydrangea, hypericum, fuchsia, clematis, late honeysuckle, some philadelphus, hebe, Californian tree poppy and cistus. Wisteria can be summer pruned this month or next, cutting back sideshoots to leave five buds or leaf joints. The rock roses (helianthemums) are much the better for having straggling shoots cut back after flowering. New shrubs can be ordered this month for November delivery.

Hybrid tea roses should be deadheaded regularly, unless heps are wanted, and it is during this month propagation of roses by budding can start, at any time when the bark lifts easily, but not during dry weather. Continue to spray for rose black spot, mildew, greenfly, red spider mite, caterpillars and thrips, especially the latter on gladioli.

Bulbs, such as daffodils, tulips, bulbous iris, and hyacinth, can be lifted, cleaned, and stored. Biennials can still be sown, and seedlings of those sown last month should be transplanted to permanent positions or pricked out into boxes. Autumn flowering crocus, cyclamen, colchicum and sternbergia can be planted.

Greenhouse damping and watering are necessities; tomatoes will be ripening and feeding should continue. Primulas, cinerarias and calceolarias will need pricking out or potting on to 4-in. pots. Seeds of these can still be sown-it is not too late for flowering them next year. Freesias will want staking.

Soft tip cuttings of shrubs and perennials can be rooted in warmth, and half-ripe kinds will be rooted in a frame or cool greenhouse. Cyclamen can be retrieved from under the bench, so can Christmas cactus, watered and started into growth, and then repotted. Greenhouse plants in flower now are abutilons, achimenes, impatiens, begonias, bougainvilleas, calceolarias, Campanula isophylla, cannas, celosias, fuchsias, heliotropes, hoyas, ipomoeas, lantanas, lapagerias, neriums, passifloras, pelargoniums and crinums.

It is during July that the splendour of the lily is at its height – among the easiest to grow and the most magnificent is the regal lily, Lilium rtgak. Its great ‘white trumpets, yellow-throated and centred with deep orange anthers, unfold in early July and waft a heavy fragrance over the garden. Once settled in well-drained, but not particularly fertile soil, provided it contains some leafmould, they will flower reliably every year without trouble. The Madonna lily, L. candulum, is another that is easily grown, and the clustered short white trumpets on stems 4 ft. tall were once seen in every cottage garden.

Others for this month are L. amabile, red; the ‘Bellingham Hybrids’, red, orange and yellow, with bell-shaped flowers; L.martagon, the Turk’s-cap, in purple; L. pardalinum, orange and crimson; L. tigrinum, the orange tiger-lily and the ‘Aurelian Hybrids’ with such evocative names as ‘Black Dragon’, ‘Golden Clarion’, ‘Green Magic’, ‘Limelight’ and ‘Pink Perfection’. All are easily grown in the soils that suit the regal lilies, except the Aurelians which mostly dislike lime in the soil and grow better in a slightly acid one. The lily fever is easily caught but not so easily lost.

Soft fruit picking will claim a good deal of time and with a deep freeze much of it can be preserved with its fresh flavour for winter; raspberries with cream or a blackcurrant pudding are particularly tasty out of season in the depths of winter. Strawberries will finish cropping this month; raspberries will come into ripening, and will finish by the end of July, and blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries will also finish, although it has been known for all to continue to ripen into August, which is late for the south of the country.

Strawberry runners should be removed as they appear, unless wanted for a fresh bed next year; pegging them down directly into the soil, if it is done early, seems to produce as good plants as the pot-grown kinds. Blackberries can be tip layered, that is the tips of new shoots are pegged down into the soil, where they will send out roots. Melons will be swelling and superfluous growth should Ix removed; water copiously at this stage. Peaches, plums and cherries will begin to ripen; the first apples will be ready, such as ‘Beauty of Bath’, ‘George Cave’, and `Emneth Early’.

Succession vegetables can be sown, lettuce, radish, parsley for winter, spring cabbage for next year, endive for blanching later in autumn. Winter vegetables to be planted out are cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, savoy and autumn celery-the self-blanching kind will begin to be ready at the end of this month. On potatoes blight may be a trouble, particularly in warm wet seasons, so spray the foliage with Bordeaux mixture to give a protective covering before the disease infects.

Onions will be maturing and the tops should be bent down, if they are not already doing it of their own accord. Early potato lifting can finish and that of second earlies start. Herbs can be gathered and dried this month, storing for winter use. Keep the hoe going and the weeds under; if ground empties as a crop is lifted, sow a quick maturing green crop such as mustard, rape or annual vetch, to be dug in early September, before it flowers.

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