Fiveways Gardens...July 2014

July's a bit of a tidying and sorting month, dealing with the early flowering plants that are probably looking tatty by now and thinking of what to fill gaps with.  The fresh green leaves that emerged in April and May are looking decidedly browner and crispier.  Prime tasks are deadheading, watering and perhaps a bit of staking.  In spite of the walls and fences around here, the wind always seems to whip up mischief, and a bit of discreet staking can make a big difference.  Consider using stems that you've pruned off shrubs as they blend in better than bamboo or plastic poles.  Do make sure they're properly dried out or they might just take root.

Cutting some herbaceous perennials back, removing tatty, tired leaves, is often worth it.  It lets in plenty of light and encourages a fresh flush of new green leaves, which really freshens up the garden.  Plants that will respond well to this include lots of perennials that flower early in the season, such as most hardy geraniums and delphiniums.  Feed any of the herbaceous plants that you cut back.

In terms of filling gaps, you may find you need a bit more structure and height in the border.  Among my favourite shrubs are Japanese tree peonies and I've finally found a local nursery that supply a range of them.  Southdown Nursery is on the A273 just outside Hassocks.  They had about half a dozen varieties when I was out there about a month ago and they were very well priced too.  For more variety, a good mail order option is Kelways in Somerset.  Plant now for amazing flowers next spring.  Given a sunny-ish spot and, importantly, shelter from strong winds, they'll give 3-4 weeks of pleasure with their amazing flowers next April-May.  They have great foliage too, so I think they earn their place in our little gardens.

If you're going to be away for a few days or more, your containers will stand a much better chance of survival if you move them to the most shady part of your garden.  If you've got some way of standing pots in a tray of water, that's great.  As well as water, don't forget to feed plants in containers - it's easy to forget.  Covering the soil with a mulch (I use horticultural grit, as it's a fairly neutral colour) will also do a lot to reduce the watering needed.

Mock orange, or Philadelphus, and Weigelas flowered heartily in June and, if you haven't already, prune them now.  

Happy gardening.


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