July Gardening

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The garden is now in full swing, and the question is what to do first in the time you have available! July is often a peak month for many vegetables, and the weeds are continuing to grow as quick as anything else! Keep on top of watering, dead-heading and feeding to get the best from your displays.
Salvia’s are a large group of garden plants that includes annuals, biennials, perennials, and shrubs. The perennial salvias are mainstays of the midsummer garden border. Salvia’s are a member of the mint family, and have the common name ‘sage’.

Salvias produce long lasting spikes of densely packed flowers and have aromatic foliage. These heat- and drought-tolerant beauties bloom from July until the first autumn frosts, in shades of blue, violet, red, pink, and white. Plants grow 18 inches to 5 feet tall, depending on the variety. Salvia’s are deer resistant and are attractive to bees.

Not all perennial Salvia’s are hardy, however taking cuttings is simple. Fill small seed trays with seed compost. Look for side shoots without flowers and either pull off with a heel by tearing very gently from the main stem, or snip below a leaf joint.
Ideally your cutting should be semi-ripe, that’s pliable (bendable) but not soft. If cutting material is difficult to find, you can use flowering shoots – just snip off the buds.
Remove the lower leaves and plunge into the compost so that at least half of the cutting is submerged. Keep the tray moist and out of full sun and within weeks your cuttings should have rooted. Either pot up in August, or leave your cuttings in situ until spring, but in a frost-free place. Always take your cuttings before August: they root better while it’s warm.

In a dry sunny border try combining Pink Salvia with Stachys byzantine (Lamb’s ears), or how about combining bright red Salvia “Hot Lips” with purple leaved Sedum ‘Purple Emperor”? Artemisia and Penstemon are also perfect planting companions. Many Salvia’s will also grow in shade, try combining white salvia with Carex “Ice Dance” and dark leaved Heucheras.

Blight watch: Blight can cause swift destruction of potatoes, and tomatoes, and there is no cure (or treatment available to purchase) to blight once it has taken hold. This destructive fungal disease is caused by spores of Phytophthora infestans which are spread on the wind and may also contaminate potato tubers in the soil. If you see any signs of blight on your potato or tomato plants, act quickly and cut off any affected parts. Then make sure you burn or dispose of the pruning’s completely to avoid spreading the disease. Don’t forget to disinfect your cutting tools (you can do this by wiping them with a weak solution of bleach or Jeyes Fluid). Gardeners are able to access forecast warnings of when blight is active, or when there have been confirmed cases, in their region visit the website http://blightwatch.co.uk/

Top Tips For July:
• Prune Wisteria now. Remove the whippy side-shoots from the main branch framework to about 20cm from their base (about five leaves from the main stem)
• Dead-head bedding plants and perennial plants to stop them setting seed and to encourage further flowering.
• Apply a high-potash fertiliser once fruits start to form on peppers, cucumber and tomatoes.

Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk

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