TAKING IT EASY IN THE GARDEN
July is the month for you to get out and enjoy your garden whether it’s an open area in the country or a more compact urban space. The lazy, hazy days of summer are best spent enjoying the plants that you have lovingly nurtured and cared for over the past months that are now in full flower.
You can also relax a little … the grass may grow slightly too long, plants may not be regularly deadheaded and the odd weed may show its head – but you will still love being outside in the garden and so will the wildlife. If you keep it simple and make your garden low maintenance but still looking beautiful you can spend longer relaxing in it.
Key to a low maintenance garden is good plant planning. Use shrubs to add texture and create focal points. They offer all year round structure and require minimal care. You can also cover the ground with plants. Ensure that bare areas in your borders are filled with easy perennials so you don’t have to spend hours weeding. Also, plant some bulbs. They extend the garden’s season of interest with hardly any attention needed, coming up year after year. And, of course, plant the right plant in the right place. Always ensure that you choose plants that are suited to your garden’s soil type, location and size.
If you have a lawn then hang on to it – for wildlife benefits, the fun of a picnic and simply the feel of it, but you could consider reducing the overall size of it by keeping a small area of short grass in the most formal area of the garden but letting other areas grow long. You can also experiment with different frequencies of cut, maybe just once a fortnight, while some ‘wilder’ areas could be left un-mown between March and September. You can even add interest with wildflower plug plants.
If you are growing your own veg then plant out runner beans that you sowed in pots or trays last month. Runner beans are one of the easiest crops to grow, bearing masses of long, sweet-tasting beans all summer long. Push strong tall supports – bamboo canes or hazel – into the ground sloping inwards so they can be tied at the top. Plant one plant per cane about 15cm apart and tie each one loosely to the support. Water well and pinch out the tops once they outgrow the canes. ‘Scarlet Emperor’ has bright red flowers and a heavy crop and is a favourite heritage variety that has been grown in Britain for centuries; ‘White Lady’ has pure white flowers and is a reliable heavy cropper with stringless, tender pods with white seeds; and ‘Painted Lady’ is a Victorian variety that is grown for its pretty bicoloured red and white flowers and its large crop of tender, flavoursome beans.
Summer is progressing and as the RHS says … this is often one of the hottest months of the year and a great time to sit out and enjoy your garden. Keep plants looking good by regularly dead-heading, and you’ll enjoy a longer display of blooms. Make sure you keep new plants well watered, using grey water where possible, and hoe off weeds, which thrive in the sunshine. Top three jobs this month – dead head bedding plants and repeat flowering perennials to ensure continuous flowering; care for houseplants whilst on holiday; and water tubs and new plants if dry but be water wise.