IN THE GARDEN: The lazy days of summer

Dahlias are perfect for July

July is the month of high summer and the garden comes alive during hot lazy afternoons to the sound of bees buzzing, gathering pollen from all the plants that you have lovingly nurtured and cared for that are now in full flower.

It’s the time of year that gardens or patios become an extension of our day-to-day living space as we use them for entertaining and relaxing in. 

When it comes to patios, the real plus side to them is that they are ideal for masses of pots of colourful summer flowers. These pots can then be extended through the Winter and into Spring with bulbs and Winter bedding to give your patio a longer lasting all-year-round appeal.

Do remember though that the more containers you have, the more watering you will have to do during hot periods and the more dead heading and trimming you will need to do – but it’s definitely worth it.

A great idea for patios is a small water feature – and if you’re short on time or space then a container pond is quick and easy to make.  You can create a different dimension to any small space, bringing the cool, calming presence of still water to the garden, attracting lots of wildlife and giving you the chance to grow a whole new range of interesting aquatic plants.

Choosing the right pot – for your garden and for a successful water feature – is essential.  You can use large sized terracotta pots, old Belfast basins and water troughs or half wooden barrels. 

Several types of aquatic plants can be grown in one container, but aquatic plants can be fast growers so may need thinning out from time to time.

With everything in full bloom, it may now be possible to cut flowers from your garden to have in the home and Dahlias are a popular choice with gardeners for this. Their warm vibrant colours mean that they are often grown specifically as cut flowers and they regularly feature at local horticultural society shows due to their summer flowering. 

Originally from Mexico, Dahlias flower from July through to the first frosts in the Autumn and range from dwarf bedding varieties to the popular giant flower heads that adorn gardens around the country. 

They can be used as bedding plants and border plants and can be added to a mixed border alongside herbaceous perennials like Phlox, Aster and Sedum.  

Dahlias thrive in any well drained soil and like plenty of sunlight but will need Winter protection in most parts of the UK. 

The key to success for July is maintenance and good, effective watering.  Top tips for this month from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society)…

  • Check climbers are secure and pest free
  • Care for houseplants if away for a few days
  • Water containers and new plants if dry but be water-wise
  • Deadhead bedding plants to ensure continuous flowering
  • Clear algae and weed from ponds and keep topped up
  • Give the lawn a quick-acting summer feed
  • Harvest soft fruits
  • Don’t forget to weed

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