Best Of Summer

It’s hard to believe that the summer is over!  But I’m glad I have so many pictures to enjoy this winter.  And they will help me plan for next year!!

Things To Do In The Cottage Garden In July

July can be a fun and productive month in the cottage garden.

Not only are your borders burgeoning, but there are ample opportunities to enhance your plantings with seeds and garden center bargains.

First, the not so fun tasks:

If your garden is like mine, everything needs deadheading, particularly the roses, hydrangeas, geraniums, sweet peas and hostas. Regular trimming will keep them looking tidy and will encourage reblooming.

July is the perfect time to compost those trimmings and to use that compost to mulch and feed your borders. Commercial bark mulch leaches nitrogen from your soil.  Using composted organic matter to mulch your plants actually improves the quality of your soil.

If you use layers and layers of bark mulch every year, you will soon be trying to grow your plants in nothing but bark mulch. It doesn’t work. And people often think there’s something wrong with the plants.

If you must use bark mulch, try mixing it with compost, or add the compost first and top with a light layer of bark mulch.

Rainfall in July can be spotty in many areas, while the heat and humidity can soar.  Make sure you keep your garden properly hydrated with periodic long soakings rather than daily sprinkles.

Now the fun part:

Planting seeds every few weeks for quick growing, colorful flowers such as sunflowers and nasturtiums will provide new interest in the garden throughout the rest of the summer.  Also, now is the time to scout garden centers for end of season bargains.

And start planning your fall garden/plantings.  Fall is the best time to plant some of the most popular plants such as peonies and alliums.

And be sure to take some time to slow down and enjoy the results of all your hard work!

What’s Blooming In The Garden On July 3rd

It’s broiling hot, and we have to water almost every day. Thank goodness for flowers that like the heat and humidity! Lots of nectar and pollen for the pollinators…

Daylilly

Monarda With Bumble!

Old Fashioned Hydrangeas

Everlasting Peas

Dahlia

Geranium ‘Rozanne”

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

The Noble Bayard tried to drink out of the Italian Bees’ birdbath and got roundly spanked!  I will be administering Benadryl with his kibble tonight!!

The Noble Bayard

Things To Do In The Cottage Garden In June

Flaming June

“What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
–  Gertrude JekyllOn Gardening

June 21 is the longest day of the year, and the extra light and warmth encourages the garden to put on an exuberant burst of growth. But this extra light and warmth also means weeds will sprout up from seemingly nowhere. Keep on top of them by weeding regularly.

Herbaceous borders are reaching their early summer peak and the kitchen garden is becoming productive.

Get those warm season vegetables planted! Young starts of tomatoes, peppers, corn, eggplant, cucumber and squash can be planted now that all danger of frost has passed. This should be done without delay, especially if you live in a region where summer is short.

Keep newly planted trees and shrubs consistently moist. This is especially true as we head into the dry summer months. To make this task easier, use water bags around the trunks.

Check your roses for pests and diseases. Blackspot, powdery mildew and aphids usually start appearing in June. As soon as a problem is detected, treat it with an earth friendly spray such as Garden Safe’s Fungicide 3-in-1, which tackles disease, mites and insects. It may be necessary to maintain a regular spraying schedule over the course of the summer.

If your spring blooming perennials are starting to look a little worse for wear, cut them back to encourage new healthy growth. It’s safe to do this until mid-July.

Vining plants often put on lots of new growth in short periods of time. One way to tame the tangle is to use dental floss to tie vines to their supports. The floss is easy to carry around by just sticking it in your pocket, needs no scissors to cut it, and if you use the green, mint-flavored type, it almost disappears next to the vine’s stem.

Sow seeds for biennials such as hollyhock, sweet william, campanula and foxglove for blooms next year.

Cut lavender blooms in early morning before the sun burns off the aromatic oils. After the flowering stops you can lightly prune the plant to keep it in shape.

Plant dahlia tubers, asters and other plants for late summer blooms.

Fill in empty spaces in the herbaceous border with annual bedding plants. Begonias, geraniums and heliotrope are good, bee-friendly choices.

Apply compost to feed your plants!

Alpine Ivy Geraniums

When my children were younger, they had the opportunity to play competitive soccer in Belgium. The whole family went over, and it was a wonderful trip.

We all loved Bruges, especially the cascading alpine ivy geraniums on the balconies overlooking the canal. I’ve grown ivy geraniums ever since.

Geraniums in Bruges

I’m getting a late start on my ivy geraniums this year. My order from Larson’s Geraniums, purveyor of European-style geraniums, will arrive on Thursday.

After they arrive, I will start the watering, pruning and fertilizing necessary to achieve European showiness. They require daily attention to achieve their highest glory. My next-door neighbor insists on the same color every year!

Italian Week – Italian Flowers For An English Garden

Italians love flowers, and that includes people as well as bees.

Geraniums in Florence

The geranium is the flower most commonly associated with Italy.  Both zonal and ivy geraniums are popular choices for the balconies and terraces of Italian homes.

Geraniums in Venice

Geraniums also fit nicely into an English cottage garden. Gertrude Jekyll pronounced that “[t]here are no better summer flowers than the single and double zonal pelargoniums that we commonly call geraniums…”  She used them to fill in bare spaces in the border and in containers. They are still perfect for those purposes.

White Geraniums in a Sunny Border

While pelargoniums do not have the reputation of being popular with bees, that has not been my experience. They seem to especially love the ivy geraniums in my window boxes.