July 2015...Fiveways Gardens

July is a bit of a tidying month, dealing with the early flowering plants that are probably looking tatty by now and thinking of what to fill gaps with.  Prime tasks are deadheading and watering.  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 from 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!

It's not too late to give some plants a good hard cut back, removing those tired leaves.  This lets in plenty of light and encourages a fresh flush of new green leaves.  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.    Mock orange, or Philadelphus, and Weigelas flowered in June, and if you haven't already, please prune them now.

Deadheading (ie taking the faded flowers off) encourages further flowering on many plants.  Plants flower to reproduce and, once pollinated, they begin to fade as the pretty petals have done their bit, by encouraging insects to visit with pollen from a suitor plant.  The plant then puts all of its energy into making viable seed for the next generation.  By removing fading flowers the plant is tricked into making more flowers.  In this way, gardeners' intervention prolongs the flowering season.

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. 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.

Among my favourite shrubs are Japanese tree peonies.  Southdown Nursery on the A273 just outside Hassocks supply a range of them.  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.  They've great foliage too, so I think they earn their place in our little gardens.

Happy gardening. 


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