Toby Buckland's Garden Cuttings: July 2014
PUBLISHED: 11:37 11 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:37 11 July 2014
Toby Buckland delivers some sound practical and seasonal advice
Hello! It’s goodbye to early summer and hello to the holidays. Gardeners often complain their plots are looking a little flowerless in July as all those English classics like lupins, delphiniums and rambling roses have finished flowering, but you only have to look to the Americas and the fashionable prairie plants for a whole new raft of colour which will bloom their socks off from now until the frosts.
If it’s hot this month – here’s hoping – take time to water anything you planted this year; it will make all the difference to how well it establishes and flowers next year. Oddly enough it’s also time to prune certain fruit trees which are less prone to fungal diseases if you make your cuts now.
And it’s not too late to plant up your patio pots - plants are larger and more expensive but if you go for patio perennials like South American fuchsias and even the hardy fuchsias - they’ll give you plenty of flower all summer.
What to do now
Watering, feeding and dead-heading are the main jobs this month. Pots and baskets take priority as plants are reliant on you for care and the bedding plants which grow in them tend to be hungry feeders. Pour some liquid Tomorite or high-potash feed in the can once a week when you water and it makes all the difference.
Pinch off or trim the dead heads at the same time to keep new buds coming. Sometimes snails sneak into pots, watch out for nibbled buds and silvery trails and have a dig round to find them.
If you have any stone fruit – plums, cherries, damsons, peach trees – now in dry weather is the time to do it rather than winter when the risk of infection from silver leaf is greater.
In the greenhouse keep watering and feeding tomatoes and peppers which need plenty of heat to ripen. Whitefly can be a problem now so hang up a few sticky traps. If I get problems with aphids now I spray with an excellent organic spray with the rather unpromising name SB Invigorator. You can use it on edible crops and it not only kills pests, including hard-to-rid scale and mealy bug, but feeds plants at the same time.
Sow mixed salads in shade and empty veg beds with soil-improving green manure such as the bee-friendly phacelia - the flowers of which smell like Bakewell tarts!
Plant of the month:
One of the easiest prairie plants to grow, Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii is happy in sun or part shade and over time builds up into golden clumps full of flower right into autumn. It makes a good cut flower and, having bristly leaves, resists the worst ravages of slugs and snails.
In a sunny border it looks just like it does our on the open plains planted in ribbon-like swathes with the delicate swishing flowers of tall grasses like miscanthus and stipa catching the sunlight.
It marries well mid-border with other North American daisies like coneflowers and helenium and creeping stonecrop at its feet. Water it in and sit back and wait for the butterflies - rudbeckia are generous nectar plants.