Although the hydrangeas are coming out and the Japanese anemones look promising, in July there is a general slowing down amongst the summer flowers. However, many plants will perform again if given a little refreshment.
Deadhead the roses (unless they are once flowering and will produce hips for the birds in winter) and any other plants that are looking a bit weary. This can have the effect of producing more flowers as the plant tries even harder to propagate itself. Cutting back almost to base will produce fresh young growth in many perennials like hardy geraniums (of which there are many at Culpeper), Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and delphiniums.
Cutting back perrennials
To give plants a lift after a haircut, feed them. There are many fertilizers to which will do the trick but seaweed is particularly recommended as it works like a tonic for all-round health. Another bonus is that it is ideal for the organic gardener who does not want to use animal products. It contains NPK (major elements - nitrogen, phosphate and potash) for good growth and also growth ‘stimulants’ in the form of natural minerals, vitamins, and enzymes.. It comes in dry or liquid form and also is included these days in various proprietary brands.
For an autumn show of flowers, plant some autumn flowering bulbs in July. The autumn crocus, Colchicum autumnale; the Winter daffodil Sternbergia lutea, Nerine bowdenii, will extend the season and should repeat flower over the years. Penstemons, rudbeckias, Michelamas daisies, sunflowers and ‘red hot pokers’ (Kniphofia) which come in soft golds and burnt oranges these days and, of course, the-now-fashionable-again dahlias should brighten up the autumn scene.
Pests enjoy the good weather as much as we do, so be vigilant. If plants don’t look happy, hone your detective skills and try to nail the problem before things get worse. Aim for top health in plants as a first important step and get into the habit of checking the backs of leaves for insects (particularly aphids), removing mildewed leaves and cutting out fungus while sterilizing tools as you go. This is a good website for identification of both plants and their diseases.