July, high Summer and the garden is now in full bloom, with Summer bedding at it’s best, but with long hot spells the lawn may start to look parched and brown and the leaves on trees and shrubs no longer looking green and fresh as they did in May and early June. This month, sometimes it is too hot to do much physical work during the day, dead heading is as much as most people will want to do, until the cool of the evening. Combinations of hot weather & the occasional rain fall can lead to the rapid spread of aphids, particularly green and black fly, they can multiply rapidly and you can be sure that some pest will be doing it’s best to establish a colony somewhere in your garden. Tasks this month; check regularly to see if plants need water, new plantings, seedlings and plants in containers are all very vulnerable and may need watering every day. In the vegetable garden leafy plants such as lettuces and spinach plus fruiting crops such as tomatoes and marrows will all suffer if they do not get enough water. Weed and deadhead regularly, checking for pests and diseases at the same time. Sow biennials herbs and vegetables . Plant Autumn flowering bulbs. Harvest seeds as soon as they are ripe, also harvest fruit, vegetables and herbs while they are in prime condition. Freeze, store or give away produce if you cannot use it immediately. Now is also a good time to trim and reshape hedges. This month try layering border carnations and pinks, choose a vigorous young shoot, strip off the lower leaves leaving about four or five leaves, make an upward cut part way through the stem, at a leaf joint, peg down into the soil with a piece of bent wire, in a couple of months you can separate the plants, this is also a good time too, to layer strawberries to increase your stock and replace old plants.
Tales from a small garden: continuing from last month, with all the remaining tree branches etc., now removed the vegetable garden was double dug, even if I dug it over ten times I would still keep digging up the wretched bell wind, however to get on, it will have to be removed as it appears. Lots of compost and old farmyard manure now dug in plus my own favourite, pelleted chicken manure. Now planting the excellent vegetable plants which I purchased at our plant sale in May. We have some particularly large wood pigeons that have the misguided idea that it is their garden & any vegetables planted there are there solely for their delectation, we will have to see about that! Recent arrivals in the flower borders are asparagus fern, Californian poppies and a lovely ground cover plant called houttuynia, multi coloured leaves which when rubbed give off a strong smell orange peel, these may come in useful and be transplanted to the stream edge as they thrive in moist conditions. The vines & fig trees are now back in full leaf, though sadly most of the young figs succumbed to the frost and fell off. Work has started on a flower bed containing my specimen bay tree, the ground is covered in so many grape hyacinths, dog violets and forget- me -nots, I think I must be holding the National collection!, but they will have to go, as this is planned to be a herb garden, with a start being made, with the good selection of herb plants I purchased at our plant sale. The greenhouse, which is in full sun all day, is thriving with the tomatoes shooting up their supports and the cucumbers you can see growing in height daily, with the extremely hot weather we experienced in May, shading had to been put into place. Currently I am preparing a perennial herbaceous border, removing some old patio slabs, I plan to have a border right across the garden, as a natural break between the lawn & vegetable garden,with the plants being collected from friends & garden centres, a good place to visit for this is the walled garden at Brinkworth, who have a large selection plants, remembering to take your Club membership card with you for a generous discount. Work continues, though somewhat slower on hot days.
Club news: On Saturday the 13th of May we held our annual plant sale Club stalwarts there at 7 am to set up and deal with the flow of plants coming in through the door. At fifteen minutes before the doors opened, the queue had stretched right outside the building, lots of bargains to be had and in no time most stock had been sold. A very social event with brief opportunities to catch up with acquaintances as well. Thanks go to those members who generously donated so many good plants, especial thanks goes once again to Mike Burgess who came from Goatacre to bring us plants. A very successful sale greatly helping Club funds and helping our Club to prosper. Many thanks to those Club members who helped on the day. We held our monthly meeting on Monday the 15th of May, with our speaker for the Evening, Roger Umpelby, with a talk entitled “Weeds”, which any keen gardener can lay claim to .Roger showed how weeds can be attractive in the right place, and some are the only food plants for some insects, also how certain weeds can be either beneficial or harmful to our garden plants. All together a very interesting talk with good illustrations, we all had something to learn from this. The member’s monthly competition, “an unusual garden tool” was won by our chairman Gwyn Blackwell, with a strange set of multi blade shears. This month our speaker will be Lynda Warren with a talk entitled “ The wartime kitchen garden”, gardening & a bit of history thrown in, promises to be an interesting evening. The member’s competition will be “Summer flowers”, so let us have plenty of entries. Something to ponder on, “A garden has a curious, innocent way of consuming money, while all the time you are under the illusion that you are spending nothing”