The month of July was named by the Roman senate in honour of Julius Caesar, as it was the month of his birth.
In the northern hemisphere this on average is the warmest month of the year with long summer evenings.
It is a time to enjoy the garden which should be at its peak and looking at its best.
The birth stone for this month is the Ruby and the months birth flowers is the water lily and larkspur.
After the hectic pace of the spring period, although there is still plenty of routine work to be done. You can do this at a more leisurely pace, taking a break if it is too hot. Sitting in a nice shady spot and admiring the garden while the day is at it hottest.
If you are out gardening remember to wear a hat and put on some sun cream and only work for short periods giving yourself breaks in between.
July’s hot days can often bring the threat of a thunderstorm which with its deluge of rain can spoil many a barbecue.
It might be better gardening either in the cool of the evening or in the early mornings.
If there is a heat wave pay attention to any last autumn plantings of trees and shrubs they will require extra watering to keep them healthy and looking good. Always water in the cool of the evening avoiding the heat in the middle of the day as more often than not the water just evaporates and does very little good.
Enjoy an evening ramble round the garden and look at the borders and see if the plant and colour combinations have worked well. Any you feel are a disappointment you can start planning changes for next year.
This month, with warm moist weather can see a rise in pest and disease attacks aphids and mildew can both be trouble-some. Deal with any outbreaks early and the control will be a lot easier. If you do use chemical sprays always wait till evening when beneficial insects such as bees have gone home for the night.
Plants this month will start producing seed heads after spring and early flowers have faded.
If you do not want to save seed for future sowings start deadheading as this will often encourage a further flush of blooms often lasting until late summer and into autumn. This is a relaxing job to do on a summer evening.
The kitchen garden should now be producing salad crops in abundance.
Remember to sow little and often to keep a regular supply of tender great tasting crispy lettuce, spring onion, radish, beetroot, peas and beans.
Early potatoes should now be ready to harvest. Dig up only what you need for the evening meal going straight in a quick wash under the tap and onto the boil.
There is nothing that tastes better as fresh dug from the ground.
Over wintered garlic should now be ready to lift and dry for storage and use over the coming months.
When the leaves of onions start to turn yellow and flop over it is recommended to bend them over to encourage the bulbs to ripen. Take a fork and just ease the bulbs out leaving them on the surface for a few days if the weather is warm.
Sow some oriental vegetables for the autumn such as Chinese radish ,mizuna greens ,pak choi, spinach and mustard. Some of these are attractive plants and don’t look out of place in the ornamental garden.
Star plants to look for this month the large Gunnera manicata where the huge leaves are at their best.
Nicotiana sylvestris a tall elegant plant with strongly scented flowers loved by moths in the early and late evening.
Waterlilies (Nymphaea) look colourful resting on the top of water in ponds and slow moving streams.
Climbing and rambling roses in all shades of colour are at their best this month, many with subtle scents which waft through the garden.
Not forgetting the many bush and shrub roses which also are at their peak.
Summer bedding plants in borders, baskets and pots will be in full bloom with a riot of colour giving the garden its best look yet.
JOBS FOR THE MONTH.
Water regular new and young plants.
Feed and water container plants regularly.
Dead head flowers as they fade for more blooms later on.
Trim conifer hedges to keep them tidy and under control.
Prune shrubs which flowered early summer.
Plant autumn flowering bulbs.
Water vegetables regular.
Harvest new potatoes, garlic and onions.
Pinch out runner beans when at the top of the canes.
Pinch out outdoor tomatoes after four trusses.
Keep greenhouses ventilated and damp down on a regular basis.
Fill any gaps in borders with summer bedding adding that extra bit of colour.
Sow vegetables for autumn harvesting.
Later in month plant out winter brassicas.
Trim the lawn regularly.
The above are some of the jobs this month.
July is the peak of the summer garden. Do take time to enjoy what it has to offer.
Sitting in the cool of the evening or have the family round for a great barbecue night.
Just enjoy, it is summer after all.