July is a proper summer month. There should be a high hot sun bringing out the scents of flowers and foliage. If it rains, that too brings out that unique smell of grass and leaves. Warm nights star white and yellow flowers, making them luminous and attracting night flying insects and bats. Live outside.
Bee feast: These bobble shaped flowers attract bees. The echinops has a perfect spherical shape and lovely soft colour. The Allium sphaerocephalon isn’t quite so beautifully shaped, but bees can’t get enough of it. The bobbles of Sanguisorba tanna makes punctuation marks in amongst gauzy grasses. Lavender, is of course ubiquitous, but it is one of those plants, like roses that you can’t be without, for scent for structure, for ease of cultivation, for longevity of flowering, they are just that good.
Warm soil, time to sow: If you’ve a mind sow vegetables for autumn and winter salad crops such as endive, radichio, mizuma and Chinese cabbage. Also there are the quick growing salads and herbs to sow; lettuce, radishes, chervil, dill, coriander and wild rocket.
Time to plant: A friend has given me some Cavolo Nero seedlings – there’s not many people that get excited about kale, but on this occasion I am. The only free beds in the vegetable garden were ones which had recently grown brassicas, so I’ve planted them between the rows of garlic. I will be careful not to disturb them when harvesting the garlic sometime this month.
Apples and grapes: Pull off the extra fruitlets on apple trees. Leave the one with the thickest stalk. This should have happened naturally, but it hasn’t this year. Do this as soon as you can. The one fruit left will swell to a decent size. The same applies to grapes, mine are so tiny at the moment I would need a magnifying glass and scalpel to thin them, but later in the month each bunch will have some fruits removed to allow the others to expand. The grape vine also requires some pruning; cutting back of the long whippy shoots, and training in any needed for a future framework.
Flashing blades: When your baby birds have flown, it will be a relief to clip the hedges and get rid all that whiskery growth. Box and yew will look all the better for a good trim. Dead head roses which will keep them producing new flowers. Cut back early flowering perennials such as geranium alchemilla after flowering to produce another crop.