July & August is a super time of year in your garden, heavy with flowers fruits and vegetables. Here at the nursery this time year sees a shift in theme from the quintessentially ‘cottage’ types of plants such Roses and Lupins to those plants from tropical and subtropical regions of the planet, these include plants like Crocosmia and Dahlias, the focus also moves to colourful and sizable foliage plants such Gunnera manicata and Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’ which start to look their best in the second half of the season, transporting us to more tropical climates, the pastel colours of early summer giving way to an explosion of topical jewels, the emphasis being on bright and often hotter tones. A recommended bedding combination at this time of year for a larger border in sun to semi shade would be a feature plant such as an Ensete ‘Maurelii’ possibly three to five of these under-planted with several Dahlia ‘David Howard’ mixed with Ornamental/edible Chili Pepper ‘Zimbabwe’ and perhaps an ornamental grass such as Stipa gigantea, this planting combination could be adapted to a large container with the main feature plant centrally placed (Ensete or Stipa) and under-planted with similar dwarfing dahlias, these plants are available from our garden centre subject to availability.
Seeds that can be sown at this time of year include, Digitalis, Hesperis, Echium ‘Blue Bedder’, Nasturtium, Stocks, Viola ‘Heartsease’, Wallflowers and Sweet William. If you enjoy home grown vegetables you might consider sowing Nasturtiums now to enjoy the peppery blooms in Autumn salads, we have three lovely varieties of Mr Fothergill’s Nasturtium seeds at the Garden Centre Shop, these include Nasturtium ‘Empress of India’, ‘Trailing Mix’ and ‘Jewel Mix’ at £2.09 a packet these are real value for money being as they are such dependable growers, they certainly do add a pop of topical orange to any container, vegetable patch or flowerbed.
Other jobs include pruning lavender, dividing iris and taking cuttings of tender perennials such as salvia, pelargonium and penstemons. Give perennials a tidy up such as catmint and geraniums like ‘Johnson’s blue that have finished flowering, cut back to the ground, feed and water them, this can be done with Delphiniums that have spent to encourage a second flush of growth and flowers. Prune wisteria – if your vine has filled the allotted space, prune back long shoots to approximately 20cm of the main branch. Prune group 1 clematis for example Clematis Montana. Keep on top of cordon type tomato by pinching outside shoots, plant out purple sprouting broccoli and sow kales for a late winter crop. Harvest herbs for drying and direct sow basil in a sheltered sunny spot. Propagate strawberries, use the runners that the plant sends out to make new plants for next year. If you have changed your early summer display to a late one make sure to keep all newly placed plants well-watered and if you have been less than vigilant in watering your pots, the compost has likely shrunk away from the edges, place fresh compost to bridge the gap and add some pelleted fertilisers, this will give your plants a new lease of life, not forgetting to dead head regularly. I trust you will be enjoying the hot colours and giant foliage of late summer as much as we are here at the nursery, if your early summer display is looking a little tired be sure to call in, we are bound to have some fresh ideas to jazz up your containers and flower beds for the second half of summer.