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RED HOT JULY – We hope!
As I write this, it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale but ever the optimists we are focusing on a red hot firey theme for planting this month. Someone did mention a heatwave this summer didn’t they? We chose the theme for our late night last month and put together a wonderful display of planted containers with red, yellow and orange plants. For a bit of fun we planted a range of containers including shoes, suitcases, barbecues, firepits and chimeneas! Check out our pictures or call into the garden centre for a closer look! Chelsea eat your heart out!
RED HOT PLANTS
I love all these colourful plants, themes and planted pot recipes. The colours bring a real lift to your garden for the summer come rain or shine. Derek and I have put together a list of our favourites and here are Derek’s thoughts:
July is upon and now my garden is starting to burst into life. It really starts to shine from July onwards. I have several star performers this month that do excellently. Sticking with the fire theme I’ll start with the hot colours that have my borders blazing.
At the edge of my borders I like to grow Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) for its deep burgundy dahlia like flowers that are highly scented and smell like white chocolate. They grow to approximately 45cm (18”) in height by 45cm (18”) in spread and need fertile, moist but free draining compost. Feed fortnightly with a multipurpose liquid feed to keep it looking good. Dead head regularly to keep it blooming. It is a tender perennial, so keep it frost free in winter with a thick mulch or dig up the tuber and store it in a dark, dry frost free place until ready to plant out in the spring.
Another fantastic edging plant is Gaillardia (blanket flowers), they have bi-coloured daisy like flowers with a red centre and yellow edge. Extremely free flowering, just keep dead heading to keep the plant looking good. It grows to 20-45cm (8”-18”) in height and 30cm (12”) in spread. It is perennial and thrives best in full sun in well drained soil. It is excellent at coping with drought and does quite well in poor soils, although I would recommend planting it with compost mixed with garden soil and feeding it fortnightly with a liquid feed to keep it looking at its best.
For something slightly more unusual to plant along the front of the border, or equally happy in a pot or hanging basket try Begonia Glowing Embers and Begonia Bonfire. They are both tender, but it you store the tubers in a dry, dark, frost free place in winter they can be replanted in the spring after the fear of frosts has past. Both plants have bright orange coloured single flowers that are extremely eye catching and attractive. Begonia Glowing embers is upright with dark chocolaty leaves that contrast beautifully with the flowers. They grow to 20-30cm in height and spread. Begonia Bonfire however has more of a sprawling habit so is equally suited to ground cover or baskets. It has a height of approximately 30-45cm (12”-18”) and a spread of 60cm (24”). Both do best in full sun to part shade. They will cope fairly well with quite a bit of shade as long as they get at least a couple of hours of sunlight. A fertile free draining soil is best, keep them moist but not water logged during periods of high heat and feed fortnightly to keep them blooming.
A tender perennial to try in a baking, neglected position is Arctotis. It is a delightful Gazania like plant. It thrives best in full sun and free draining poor soil. It flowers profusely even through the bad weather, and unlike Gazanias, its flowers open up in dull weather. It comes in orange, red, yellow, pink and cream with silver grey foliage that’s slightly furry. It grows to 30-45cm (12”-18”) and spreads to 30cm (12”). Perfect if you forget to water it or go on holiday! It will die in the frost so either treat as an annual or store in a bright frost free place.
For the middle of the border salvia hot lips looks great at this time of the year with red and white flowers that are really eye catching. It is highly scented with the typical sage scent and makes a nice cut flower. It grows to approximately 45-60cm (18”-24”) in height by 45cm (18”) in spread. It likes a warm sunny position in free draining soil. It continues to flower from July through to the frosts. Keep dead head to keep it looking good. In the spring prune it back hard to about 15cm (6”) to keep it looking fresh and tidy.
For sunny cheer I like to grow Rudbeckia Goldstrum in repetitive bursts in my border. They are reliably hardy and continue to bloom non stop from July to October with bright yellow sunflower like flowers and black centers. They like a position in full sun to partial shade and grow well in any soil. If your soil is particularly poor, enrich it with some compost. It grows to 60cm (24”) in height by 60cm (24”) in spread.
At the rear of the border roses are still doing well. Particular favourites of mine are Rosa Tawny Tiger and Rosa Tequila Sunrise for there bi-coloured blooms in hot colours. Tawny Tiger is a floribunda rose with multiple medium sized blooms flowering on the same stem. It has dark red flowers with terracotta striped running though. It is nicely scented and repeat flowering. It grows to approximately 90cm (36”) in height by 60cm (24”) in spread. Tequila Sunrise is a hybrid tea rose which has a single large bloom on a stem that opens up orange to reveal a yellow centre. They are slightly scented and repeat flowering. It also grows to around 90cm (36”) by 60cm (24”). They both require full sun to part shade in fertile moist soil. Other bi-coloured roses that are looking great now are Rosa Scent-imental with white hybrid tea blooms with pink stripes and Rosa Nostalgia with large hybrid tea blooms that start out red and then open to reveal a white centre. Both roses are highly scented and repeat flowering.
Other plants looking good in July are:
Agapanthus with heads of blue or white lily shaped flowers on long stalks,
Rhodanthemums which are an excellent hardy replacement to Marguerites.
Hardy Gerberas are an excellent plant for the cutting garden with bright typical daisy flowers returning every year.
Leucanthemums have large white daisy flowers that bloom profusely and easily.
Lobelia Russian Princess is a tall perennial lobelia with dark foliage and striking pink flowers.
Penstemons are low maintenance and have brightly coloured flower spike appearing all summer.
Gardenia Kliem’s Hardy is a recent introduction that is hardy down to -10C and has typical Gardenia blooms that are highly scented.
Bedding Plants are coming into full bloom in July and are really taking off. Don’t forget to fill your baskets and pots with continuous colour and cheer all summer. Also don’t be afraid to fill any gaps in your displays, bed and borders with bedding. It’s a quick, colourful, instant and affordable way to correct any disasters, plug any gaps, disguise ugly spaces and cover any early flowering plants that have gone over before it’s too late.
Your questions answered
We have had a number of enquiries regarding grafting plants and why is it done. There are a number of different reasons to why plants are grafted but the two most common reasons are firstly to combine a rootstock of a disease resistant plant to one that is prone to pest and disease but has either attractive, abundant flowers or a high crop yield. In combing both you get a plant that is both pest and disease resistant and has a high yield or fruits and flowers. The second reason is taking the rootstock of a smaller or dwarf plant and grafting it to a larger more vigorous plant to result in a plant that grows to the maximum height of the rootstock plant but has the desired qualities of the larger plant. It is the same technique applied to some standards such as roses and willows. It allows gardeners to grow larger plants in places where space is limited. Its sometimes difficult to explain so have a look at the picture to see how the graft looks.
Garden Of the Month
Thank you so much to Sally from Stoke who sent us a wonderful picture of her Palm. £10 voucher on its way to you.
‘these are flowers on my plam tree in the back garden. It is the first time this palm has flowered and they took my breath away.
It is ‘Trachycarpus Fortunei Chusan Palm Tree’ in full flower which is an amazing sight. It normally happens to mature plants so you can wait a while to see such a wonderful display!
One of the most popular and suitable palms for the UK. The Chusan or Windmill Palm from China usually tolerates temperatures down to -17°C without problem, looking equally good in summer or winter. Trachycarpus fortunei should not be planted in very windy locations as the leaves will look tatty. Large green, fan leaves grow from a hairy, matted trunk that can grow between 10-30cm a year at maturity, although much slower when younger!
So don’t forget to come to the garden centre for inspiration, information on our popular coach trips which are going really well and for all the promotional offers in store particularly for gardening club members.
Fiona & Derek
Things to do in July
July is a time of rapid growth. Sweet peas need rings to keep them in place on the canes, pinch out the side shoots from the main stem to give exhibition blooms.
Conifer hedges cut at this time of year will ensure a year free of further trimming.
Wisterias, especially those that fail to flower, should have all of the new growth cut back to just 5 or 7 leaves from the main stem.
Perennial plants are growing tall now, so get support rings to help to keep them vertical against the prevailing winds.
Hanging baskets will be filling out now and will benefit from a half dose of Miracle- Gro liquid feed every other day. Follow the guide “Water they will survive. Feed they will grow”.
Roses will have finished the first flush of flowers . The books dictate that you do not feed roses after June for fear of soft growth. If you feed with Tomorite, the second flush of flowers will be better and the potash will help to give you the hard wood that you need to over winter.
Large flowered begonias grown from tubers should have the female , smaller flowers removed to give large male blooms.
Plant of the month
Plant of the Month – Calla Lilly
Another excellent cut flower which looks great in the garden in July is Calla lilies (Zantedeschia). It has beautiful trumpet shaped flowers which appears from the centre of the foliage unrolling as it emerges. The blooms have a waxy feel to them and come in a variety of colours including white, yellow, orange, pink red, purple, burgundy and even black! They are beautiful grown together in a clump in full sun to part shade in fertile, moist but not waterlogged soil. It needs to be somewhat free draining as they hate to stand in water especially in winter. Dead head after the flowers have faded as they have a tendency to droop with the weight of the seeds. Many varieties have spotted or coloured leaves that are attractive when the flowers have faded. Mulch it heavily in winter and keep it reasonably dry to prevent the tubers from rotting. Generally grows to 45-60cm (18”-24”) with a spread of approximately 20cm (8”) however Zantedeschia Aethoipica grows to 1.4m (48”) by 60cm (24”) and is suitable for damp ground and shade. I love these colourful lilies and we have the yellow and black varieties in the garden centre now. Because they don’t like to be too wet (the bulb can rot) and as long as they get plenty of light they can be grown as a houseplant and make a fantastic planted gift. Place in a warm, humid sunny part of the house such as the bathroom or kitchen, or you could grow it in a conservatory or sunny window sill if you regularly mist it.