Essential tips and tricks to nurture your garden this July

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Summer garden care: prolonging blooms, managing invasive species and prepping for next year’s display with expert advice from Pete Harcom

Our native dog rose, rosa canina, is a scrambling rose with delicate pink flowers which, if left will produce beautiful rose hips, eaten by a wide range of birds – they stay juicy until late winter

t’s finally time to relax and enjoy the garden – just a few jobs this month to keep things under control.
The first is to regularly deadhead the borders to prolong flowering.
This keeps borders free from unsightly dying petals (especially under rose bushes, which can lead to black spot). It also helps prevent plants from wasting energy creating seed heads which may be unwanted. Having said that, many roses produce attractive hips from flowers left on the bush – our native dog rose (rosa canina, a scrambling rose with delicate pink flowers) has hips in winter which provide a good autumn/winter food source for birds. It’s not to be confused with the bright pink Japanese rose, rosa rugosa, which can become invasive and overpower native species of plants.
Other roses that produce attractive rose hips include rosa helena, rosa nitida and rosa hans.

Stay on top
Left alone, some plants will produce self-seeded offspring all around the garden, and while in most cases this is good for wildlife, it’s worth mentioning that some can be a nuisance in the wrong place. These pest plants would include buddleia Davidii, (butterfly bush) which will spread prolifically if left unchecked, red valerian and alchemilla (Lady’s Mantle) – while very pretty in any garden, it can be a problematic invader as its rhizomes grow and spread underground.
Buddleia flower on new season’s growth, so I cut the plant back hard in early spring (late March) and then let it grow back: it will flower well and attract many butterflies. It is clearly a favoured nectar source. I then cut off the spent flowers before they set seed, which keeps the plant under control.
Be sure to use liquid feed on all hanging baskets and potted plants, encouraging new growth through the rest of summer. Feeding will also help revive tired displays.

A little forward planning
Divide any clumps of bearded iris this month for an even better display next year, and take cuttings of patio and container plants ready for next summer.
July’s a good time to sow biennials such as foxgloves, sweet William, wallflowers, honesty and forget-me-nots, ready to plant out in autumn for a stunning display next spring. Sow into large seed trays or a dedicated seed bed, then separate seedlings when large enough to handle.
Avoid pruning those straggling hedges until the end of August at the earliest. The main breeding time for garden birds is between March and August, so leaving the hedges gives them time to rear their young in peace.

Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre

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