July, perhaps like no other, sees every part of your garden in full flow - beds, borders and containers should now be a riot of colour with perennials and annuals at their best and the kitchen garden should be earning its keep, with crops and fruit appearing faster than you can eat them. Take photos of the garden to remind you of which bits work well and which areas might need rethinking ahead of next season, but in the meantime there are plenty of tasks to get down to while you enjoy the sunshine:
Water, water and keep watering!
Lupins, Delphiniums, Foxgloves and Verbascums will often flower for a second time later in the season if cut back hard immediately after flowering and Aquilegias, Alchemilla and hardy Geraniums will produce fresh new foliage if cut back now.
Regularly deadhead your roses, leaving varieties with attractive hips for an Autumn display – Snip-Its are perfect for the job. Spray at monthly intervals if rust, blackspot or powdery mildew is a problem. Keep roses well watered and treat to a feed every few weeks to encourage a second flush of flowers.
Remove the flowered stems of rambling roses once they’re over, tying in new shoots to flower next year – perhaps a bower or a gazebo would create an impressive feature.
Fill gaps in the border with half-hardy annuals– Cosmos, Nicotianas and Zinnias– for flowers into the middle of autumn.
Give early summer flowering shrubs such as Weigela, Deutzia, Philadelphus, Kerria and Spiraea their annual prune immediately after flowering. Remove a quarter of the oldest shoots to the base to stimulate fresh growth and to help the plant retain its vigour.
Prune Lavender after flowering to keep the plant compact taking care to avoid cutting into the old wood
Take semi-ripe cuttings of favourite shrubs - Hebe, Buxus, Fuchsia, Pyracantha, Hibiscus, Buddleja and Cistus should all root well along with woody herbs like sage and rosemary.
Prune wisteria towards the end of this month – if your plant has filled its allotted space, prune back the long whippy shoots. Take them to within approximately 8in (20cm) of the main branch or tie in any shoots need to extend the framework. You’ll need to do a further round of pruning in January.
Pinch off the growing tips of squash and courgette to encourage branching, and water regularly.
Keep pinching out side shoots of cordon varieties of tomato and make sure the plants are well supported – a Support Frame will ensure that the fruit does not weigh the stems down. Tomatoes will need feeding weekly.
Keep sowing lettuce, radish, beetroot and oriental greens, as well as spinach. Sow the last of this years carrots, peas and dwarf French beans for a late crop
Look out for signs of early potato blight, particularly if the weather has been wet. If plants are infected cut back all the foliage and wait two weeks before harvesting the crop, which should be unaffected.
Lift onions, shallots and garlic as the foliage yellows and begins to die back - Leave on the soil’s surface to dry in the sun or lay out on staging in the greenhouse.
Use fleece and netting to combat the threat of root fly, flea beetle, cabbage whites and birds.
Lift and divide rhubarb plants. Discard the centre of an old clump and replant divided outer growth.
Thin fruit on orchard trees to produce larger healthier fruits and support heavy boughs – a telescopic Fruit Branch Support might save the tree damage from a bumper crop.
Make sure you maintain crop cages and netting to protect soft fruit from birds and prune out raspberry canes to the base once fruited. Tie the new canes onto wires or a Raspberry Support and mulch along the row to retain moisture.
Trees grown as fans, cordons or espaliers should be given a summer prune around now. Shorten side shoots to five or six leaves from the base to encourage fruiting spurs to form.
Avoid cutting the grass too short and placing lawns under stress. Leave the box off the mower every other cut - clippings rot down quickly in warm weather, returning much needed nitrogen to the lawn.
For peace of mind use a pond cover if there are children visiting your garden who may be tempted by the water.
Most of your time will be taken up with the watering, tidying and staking - remind yourself next year how much easier it is to stake plants before they start to fall over! - all the while keeping one step ahead of pests and diseases. But as always don’t forget to pause and enjoy your garden at its most exuberant and commit to memory just how worthwhile all those chilly winter days of preparation are!