Gardening Year


We’re now well into July – and after all the fine weather we have enjoyed, everything in the garden should be lovely!

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Containers and hanging baskets should be fed and watered regularly to ensure your plants continue to flower, and I certainly recommend dead-heading. Nip off any flower head that has faded – this will prevent your plant wasting precious energy on any spent flowers, and instead will channel all its strength into producing new, fresh blooms.

Likewise, perennials and lavenders will all benefit from a neat clip once their flowering period has ended – if you do this now, you will be able to enjoy a second wave of blooms later in the summer.

So now all your containers, baskets and beds are bathed in colour, why not do something about that bare fence or harsh brick wall ?

Climbing plants come in all colours and sizes from a petite patio clematis to a huge rambling rose.

The Honeysuckle family are a superb choice for a sunny position. Varieties such as Serotina – the late Dutch Honeysuckle, Belgica with its reddish purple flowers or Americana, a pungent, white flowering example will all reward you with a superb summer show.

These varieties are all deciduous, but if you do need foliage for all 12 months of the year, go for Hall’s Prolific. This is a rampant evergreen climber that produces fragrant yellow and cream flowers during the second half of the season.

Another favourite is the Clematis, perhaps the most popular of all climbers.

Some gardeners tend to steer clear of Clematis, worried by two important factors.

The first being that these plants must be planted with the roots shaded from the full sun.

This is easily achieved by simply planting tallish perennials such as Penstemon or Verbascum around the base to deflect the sun’s rays.

The other aspect and the least understood is pruning. A great deal of confusion exists regarding the pruning of Clematis, but as long as you follow a few simple rules, you should not have any problems.

Basically the aim of pruning is to aid the establishment of the plant and to achieve the maximum amount of blooms.

The main point to bear in mind is if your Clematis flowers in early season, it is best to prune after flowering, if it blooms in late summer, cut back to around 50cm in March.

So having tackled where to plant and how to prune, which variety should you choose?

The two earliest flowering varieties are the Montanas and Armandii.

The former is a rampant free flowering selection that bursts into colour as early as March, whilst The Armandii is an evergreen example that produces superb white and pale pink fragrant flowers, again early in the season.

Some of my favourite Clematis are : “Bill McKenzie” – yellow flowers with attractive seed heads.

“Elsa Spath” – Large blue flowers.

“Ernest Markham” – Fantastic rich red flowers”.

In fact the Clematis family is so large and varied there is bound to be a variety to suit you.

No traditional English garden is complete without a climbing rose or two.

“Compassion” with its pink/apricot flowers and “Paul’s Scarlet” are two classic choices.

For summer fragrance a Jasmine is unbeatable, for rich autumn colour choose a Virginia Creeper.

If your garden possesses an eyesore – a fuel tank or an ugly outbuilding, select a Polygonum – The Russian Vine – but do beware, this climber can grow up to 10 metres a year – hence its nickname The Mile a Minute Plant.

If you have a shady wall to cover there is the climbing Hydrangea Petiolaris , and for a stately, elegant feel there is nothing better than the majestic Wisteria.

No matter what size of garden, I am sure there is a climber for you.

Even if space is limited, most climbers will grow in a container if fed and watered throughout the season.

So – now there is no excuse to live with that unsightly wall, bare pergola or dilapidated garden shed – get planting!