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July 2019 Column

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

And…… relax. Leaves, once verdant, settle down to rich green. The fresh frothy lusciousness of May and June has gone, and the hot summer months have checked in. In July, the main task in the garden is to eat as many meals outside.

A month of Garden (house) Keeping, we move our houseplants outside (into the shade first to ‘harden off’), giving the roots a good soak in the pot, repotting where appropriate and showering the dust off the leaves. We continue to sow seeds, direct into the soil for late summer produce, herbs and extra early annuals for next year. The soil is warm, so plants establish quickly.

This time of year, you can take cuttings of shrubs that have just flowered like Philadelphus, Shrub Roses and Viburnum Opulus. Taking cuttings is a task most gardeners will not do out of fear, but it is hands down the most popular activity on our ‘Grow Your Own Cut Flower’s’ Classes. Plants for free! And so easy. They require no sacrament nor alchemy. Essentially one cuts off a piece of the plant, sticks it in soil and watches it grow roots and then plant out. Success is most likely if you pick the right time of year for each type of cutting, soft wood, semi ripe, hard wood or root. Right now, take cuttings of shrubs that have just flowered like Philadelphus, Shrub Roses and Viburnum Opulus. Snip off a stem about 15cms long, put in a plastic bag to retain moisture and get into soil as soon as possible. Cut just below a leaf node, at an angle and poke at least 2.5cms into the soil at the edge or corner of the pot. Cover with that plastic bag and put somewhere sunny. You know the plant has ‘taken’ and rooted on the appearance of new leaves. Voila.

But no matter how much work one did in the spring, the garden is running away. I love working on the plots or in my own garden, but there is no fun in the constant feeling of fighting a loosing battle. So, consider the essential work. Do you need to cut the grass as often? It looks lusher longer. Never have bare soil; throw annual seeds around to fill the patches with poppies, borage and cornflowers. This reduces the water evaporation and space for weeds to grow. The one job to do above all else if you are strapped for time but want the garden to look its best is to trim the edges. The garden will look smart and the lawn and beds framed, without even weeding borders or cutting the grass.

My favourite cut flowers right now are those I can enjoy both in a jug in the kitchen and pinch off for pretty decoration of cakes, salads and drinks. It’s a massive multi-tasking pleasure. I cut long tendrils of Nasturtiums, snapping off spicy leaves, colourful flowers and pickling the seeds, together with roses, courgette flowers, cornflowers, roses, borage plus all the abundant botanical herbs (my favourites Mint, Basil and Dill) for sundowners in the hammock. Floating a few petals in a drink at the end of a long hot day is a simple but real luxury.


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