Summer weather going down in July but you still have the wildlife to think about

Wow, we have had some proper summer weather, mind you things seem to be going down hill at the time of writing (mid July). However some things do not change we still have not had a representative in a Wimbledon final and the English cricket team narrowly avoided another defeat at the hands of the old enemy.

One of the main tasks this month will be to keep on top of the watering, assuming that the recent downpours do not persist. To enable the water to soak in the best time to carry out the practice will be early morning or in the evening before the day gets too hot. You can always check by digging down and looking; the soil should be moist to down to about 3-4 inches. Just squeeze some in your hand and if it holds together it is moist enough. There are a number of ways, hose pipe, watering can, sprinklers but one of the more environmentally friendly ways is to use either seep hose or spaghetti irrigation which will deliver small amounts keeping the plants moist, ok the soil moist.

Your garden should be full of leaf and flower and to keep it that way you should be prepared to deadhead so that you will get a second flush, though you shouldn’t cut down ornamental grasses as these will provide winter interest.

The downside of all of this is that the warmth and wet will encourage weeds so weed control becomes a high priority otherwise they will produce more seeds to continue to haunt you. Remember one year’s seeding is several years weeding. Therefore instead of putting your feet up and relaxing you ought to be out there with a hoe, or perhaps not (weeds will benefit the wildlife in your garden, good excuse?).

Now is the time to plant out winter flowering pansies but make sure that the soil is in good heart and if in doubt a touch of soil improver or organic manure will ensure that plants establish well.

This is also the time of year to order spring flowering bulbs, especially daffodils which can be planted from now on right up until December (Ok they wont be as good as the earlier planted ones but will survive) My favourites are the dwarf ones such as Hawera, tete a tete, minnow etc. But do not forget other bulbous species such as amaryllis, belladonna, bluebells, chionodoxa, colchicum, erythronium, fritillaria, leucojum, scilla sibirice, snowdrops etc.

The dry weather will have restricted lawn growth making mowing a less frequent activity (Yippee!) however for those recently returned from holiday may need to give the lawn a trim but reduce the height gradually.

To encourage wildlife you can make shelters and leave prunings to provide suitable habitats for a range of species. To further attract wildlife certain plants are more attractive by supplying nectar such as Sedum spectabile ( highly attractive to butterflies and bees making an additional attraction in the autumn garden) and others for their, pollen, Lavatera (needs a bit of room and sun to be at its best. Insect-friendly planting is likely to attract more insects than a mass planting of flowers providing only nectar or pollen.

Having said that, my golden hop has been decimated by either slugs or snails and when I find them, wildlife will be discouraged!

So farewell until Pomona arrives.