By July the garden should be in full flow. It is the height of the growing season and any laggards that may have suffered in an adverse spring will have caught up.
A little slash and burn with the perennials in the flower bed will perk up a border that’s beginning to look tired. Slash back any perennials that are early summer stars, such as geums or geraniums, to give room for the late performers. Cut back hard, as some early performers will give an encore later in the season if encouraged. Hardy geraniums are especially good at encores. Don’t spare any perennials that you expect to flower for longer. If they are beginning to look a little tatty cut them back to give them a boost.
Of course the weeds will also be growing strongly and, given a chance, will make a bid to dominate your border. Little and often is the key to keeping weeds down. If possible, check the garden every day and do five minutes weeding. It will make all the difference. Getting out in the garden every day should be a joy this time of year. Make a cup of tea, grab a trowel and keep those weeds in check!
Don’t forget to be vigilant with watering anything you planted during the last year. The first year after planting is crucial to get a plant well established. Keep new plantings well-watered and weed free. And plants in containers will need watering EVERY DAY if it doesn’t rain. If they are in a large container you might get away with every other day.
VERY USEFUL, BUT NOT ESSENTIAL
Deadhead flowers as they go over to encourage more flowers. This can be part of your five minute weed check. Leaving dead flowers on the plant will do no harm, but they don’t look as pretty! The exception is where you want to keep the seedheads as they are decorative. Perennials such as Plomis and Veronicastrum, should not be deadheaded. I mostly plant perennials that don’t need staking but sometimes a heavy shower will cause the most robust perennials to slump. An easy way to prop them up is with twiggy sticks that you have pruned from trees and shrubs. Always keep a pile of these prunings handy somewhere.
Flowers such as sweetpeas, pelargoniums (often referred to as geraniums) or other bedding plants that you are growing in pots will appreciate a regular feed to keep the flowers coming. I use tomato feed or seaweed. Deadheading the plants in pots is time well spent.
IF YOU HAVE THE TIME
If you have grown some pretty annuals such as cosmos, ammi, or orlaya now it the time to plant them out in the border. They are useful for filling gaps created by cutting back and you can feel smug about saving money by growing your own!