Our columnist Jackie Power says ‘bad weather means more gardening!’

News Desk (14 July, 2016) Columnists

"Due to last month’s challenging weather there are extra tasks to be done in the July garden"

735Jackie Power

It is no surprise to hear that rainfall in June was above the monthly average.

Thankfully, the almost daily torrential downpours finally stopped as July began. And it looks like summer has arrived with warmer days and clearer skies.

Due to last month’s challenging weather there are extra tasks to be done in the July garden.  Leaf loss from trees has been dramatic, it is sad to see so many swirling around during the summer months. Tidy leaves and any fallen branches; trim back damaged stems and support plants that have been weakened by the weather, using stakes.

Continue deadheading roses and apply a liquid feed (or seaweed tonic). Summer pruning of some fruit trees can also be done; read up before tackling this job; it needs to be done correctly for each type of tree or future flowering and subsequent fruiting could be affected.

July is the month to start planting autumn flowering bulbs. And although it seems a long way off until next season’s displays, it is a delight to see these blooms in October time when most plants are dying back. Cyclamen is always a good choice, there are many different types – Cyclamen ciprium has white flowers with a splash of pink and a lovely perfume or there’s Cyclamen persicum also scented. Colchicum is the purple-pink autumn crocus, best planted in clumps for effect. Or try the more unusual and showy Amaryllis (Belladonna lily) – available in garden centres or from online suppliers.

Growth in the garden is now reaching its peak, and is especially luxuriant after the monsoon like conditions in June. There is such a variety of beautiful shrubs, herbs and annuals in bloom including Hollyhocks, Hebes, the summer Jasmine, Lavenders and floribunda Roses. Some of the traditional medicinal plants also flower at this time; St John’s wort (Hypericum) has golden flowers which radiate light; it is used by Herbalists to treat depression (as well as other ailments). Passionflower (P. incarnata) with its curious frilly purple flowers is used as a sedative for sleep problems. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a versatile medicinal plant traditionally known as a wound healing herb, but having a wide range of uses for different ailments (beware the foliage can cause skin irritation). Always seek the advice of a qualified Herbalist before using any plants for medicinal purposes. The cultivated Yarrow, grown as an ornamental, has feathery leaves and compact red/pink flower heads.

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