July is one of the few months in the year we gardeners get a chance to put our feet up, sit back and enjoy our plots. But if you’re one of those gardeners who can’t sit still, there are lots of things you can get on with in high summer – and the result will be some great displays of colour later on in the year.
July is the ideal month to plant autumn-flowering bulbs such as colchicums, and nerines. Most of them are suitable for growing in containers as well as open ground, so you can easily pot them up and leave them tucked away somewhere until their time comes.
Colchicum autumnale and Colchicum speciosum are commonly known as naked ladies because their flowers appear on their own before the leaves. They’re great to plant in containers because after the flowers have gone over, the leaves get quite messy – if they’re in a pot you can hide them away at that stage! ‘Waterlily’ has nice lilac-pink double flowers while C. speciosum ‘Album’ has elegant pure white flowers.
Try Nerine bowdenii ‘Zeal Giant’, adding grit for drainage and positioning them somewhere in full sun where they can get a good baking. ‘Zeal Giant’ has large vibrant pink flowers.
You can also sow the seeds of winter and spring bedding now – which could save you a fortune if you normally wait and buy plants from the garden centre. It also means you’ll have better displays. When you buy winter and spring bedding from the garden centre to plant out, it often doesn’t have long enough to get established before the onset of winter and the result is a poor show of flowers. How often have you planted out winter pansies, only to find they do nothing over winter and are still exactly the same size in spring? Grow from seed now and you’ll have plenty of time to raise sturdy plants with lots of buds that will weather the winter and give you a great show.
Winter pansies are best germinated in dark and cool conditions (light and heat can prevent germination). A good tip is to put little caps of aluminium foil over the top of the pots to eliminate the light, just until the seeds have germinated.
MUST-BUY PLANT… Achillea
Achillea ‘Cloth of Gold’
Large gold plates of flowers make this achillea a stand-out plant in herbaceous borders. Put some stakes in to stop it flopping!
The same golden-yellow flowers, but the leaves and stems of this variety are the lovely silvery-green that give this plant its name.
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