July In My Garden by Philippa Thomas

July brings long warm days that continue late into the evening so it gives us the chance to make great use of our gardens.  Our gardens are literally, bursting with life.  It is the perfect weather for pottering about, hosting barbecues, outdoor dinners, reading your favourite book with some delicious homemade herbal tea or the likes.  – So, let’s slow down now and really enjoy our gardens and all the effort we put in earlier in the year to get where it is now.  Apparently, 2019 has been so far, the best blossom year in decades.

June and July are our months of rapturous roses.  Why not pick a bowlful of them for the kitchen table and enjoy their scent – , linger, observe and appreciate their heady scents.  Generally, roses with the best scents have darker colours, more petals and usually thick or velvety petals.  Intense yellow or orange roses often smell of fruits.

It’s so great to see a revival in growing plants to attract bees and insects.  Nevertheless, so many more species of insects are being threatened.  Every one of us can create a little wildlife haven patch – seriously worth a thought.  Foxgloves are such a bee friendly plant as they are really rich in nectar.  So too are Echiums, Nepeta, Papaver (poppies), Asters, Cornflowers, Sunflowers, Lilies etc.  Multiple flower heads are excellent, either in a spire or trailing racemes like Wisteria.  Flowers with open faces, particularly flat flowers, are far better for bees than double species varieties.  Then, bees also love herbs such as Lavender, Mint, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Borage and Comfrey.

Wasn’t there huge emphasis at Bloom this year on plastic waste?  Didn’t Oliver and Liat Schurmann’s ‘Sustainable Gardens’, say it all.  – How we confront THIS GROWING PROBLEM of marine pollution is an issue that weighs heavily on all of us.

On a lighter note, shrubs and trees planted last Autumn might need watering as they are making rapid new growth and are unable to take up enough moisture.  Likewise, water new and young plants regularly – , water heavily to encourage deep roots rather than sparingly which will encourage surface rooting.  It’s a good idea to remove some foliage to improve air circulation.  For those of us who have containers positioned close to the house or other garden structures, check them even in wet weather as their sheltered position may mean rain is not reaching the soil.  Finally, stay ahead of weeds.  Pulling them up before they flower could save you hundreds of new weeds.  – Remember, good garden soil, unsterilized, has many benefits.  It is easier to water, it has its own nutrients and lends weight to help pots from falling over.  Late July and August can be exceedingly hot and bright in a greenhouse and the fewer the vents, the greater the problems.  Maybe, dampen down the greenhouse floor, leave the doors open and keep constantly moving more sensitive plants to positions of shade behind larger ones.

REDUCING, RE-USING AND RECYCLING IN THE GARDEN.

LET’S STRIVE TO FIND WAYS TO RE-USE ITEMS THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE DISCARDED.

The WHICH New Garden Magazine wrapper is now made from potatoes, potato starch and is now completely compostable, which is different form being recyclable!  You can bury it in your garden and it will break down into carbon dioxide, water and other minerals in about 90 days.  It’s known already as ‘Cream of the Crop’.

Maybe Consider: –

  1. Tiered: Wooden planks, planters or ladders can maximise ground space, i.e. a selection of herbs can grow very well this way.
  2. Newspaper and all unneeded mail can be composted. Worms love it!  Cover with grass clippings, over time the paper will rot.
  3. Toilet paper tubes: Use to start seeds. Cut one end into 4 inch long sections and fold it under to make a base for the pot.  Plant the entire tube outside later…  Give them plenty of light so they don’t go mouldy.
  4. Umbrellas: Use to shade your tiny plants in sun, if too hot.
  5. Maybe, put plant cuttings into unused plastic bags in order to root them, add some water and even maybe a little sphagnum moss. Zip them, mostly closed; hang from the likes of a clothes line.  – You can see when the roots have formed.
  6. Tin cans (not with sharp edges) make handy and durable seed scoops for wild bird seed or for scooping compost into pots for seed planting.
  7. Buy a supermarket Basil, divide it into four and plant it out. It will soon grow and start to increase.
  8. Plastic bottles: Cutting off the bottom of large clear plastic bottles makes an excellent mini cloche which will protect seedlings from harsh winds, slugs and snails, – leave top off bottles, once plants touch the sides, remove bottles.
  9. Old grapefruit skins and coconut shells are great for collecting slugs.
  10. An old suitcase can be turned into a medicine cabinet, screwed into the wall with 2/ 3 shelves, its inner straps can hold bottles in place, a cheap euro mirror glued on its front and then, suitcase/ medical cabinet locked to keep all out of danger.
  11. Clear plastic boxes used by supermarkets for muffins, pastries, coleslaw etc., the lid gives the tray its own propagator.
  12. Bath tubs, old sinks and buckets make excellent ponds when stuck into the ground. With a little care you can cultivate a rich ecosystem in your pond and attract frogs and toads which then prove very effective at reducing the numbers of slugs.  Add some pond weed to keep the water clean, together with old logs or pieces of wood which the frogs can use to climb out.  Finally, make pond safe, if children are going to be around.  Either fence it off or cover with a metal grid.

Enjoy!

 

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

Robert Louis Stevenson.

 

“Dwell on the beauty of life.  Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

Marcus Aurelius.