The weather in July was warm and sunny with several days above 32 degrees C.
Rain was absent for much of the month with only light showers. All change for August – temperatures have dropped (although it remains humid) and an unsettled weather pattern is expected. Sunset is a little earlier but there are still plenty of daylight hours to enjoy the garden and make preparations for the next growing season.
The vigorous growth of early summer reached its peak in July and many plants are past their best. Continue deadheading roses, geraniums, fuchsias and petunias to encourage more flowers. Cut back Lavender once flowering has finished. Give container and window box plants an organic liquid feed such as ‘Vitax’ (follow directions for use).
Adding seasonal plants can liven up the late summer borders. Hollyhocks, Yarrow, Day lilies, and Sunflowers are often available at garden centres. Cuttings of various plants can be taken now. Use the soft summer growth from fuchsias, geraniums and herbs like lavender, rosemary and sage. Put 10cm cuttings (removing lower leaves) into small pots of sandy soil or multi-purpose compost. A rooting hormone powder can be used to ensure success. Water regularly to ensure cuttings do not dry out.
Many flowering plants and herbs need full sun to thrive. If you have a shady spot in the garden by a fence/wall or under trees; or north facing window boxes there are plants that will tolerate shady conditions.
Pulmonaria has interesting speckled leaves and produces blue or red flowers in late winter. It does not need much attention and reaches about 30cm in height. Pheasant’s tail grass is fast growing, with year round colour and produces delicate sprays of flowers in late summer. It reaches a metre high and needs space.
Ferns thrive in dappled sunlight; there are different types to choose with varying leaf shape; some have feathery leaves ranging from pale to vivid green. Hart’s tongue fern is a popular choice.
Geranium cranesbill, the hardy perennial (not the annual) has attractive leaves and produces red, blue, purple or white flowers. There are lots to choose including G. cinereum ‘Ballerina’ (pink flowers) and Geranium ‘Jolly Bee’ (blue flowers). The annual busy lizzie (Impatiens ‘new guinea’) tolerates shade and is an ideal window box plant – trouble free and produces lots of vibrant flowers.