This section is contributed by Jacqui Baillie-Lambert. she has been working along side with Montrose for many years now.
I’ve got 16 years experience (so far) first as a landscaper and more recently as a designer and gardener. I don’t have a ‘trademark’ style – each garden or planting design depends on what the client wants. I’m based in Guildford but I work all over Surrey on a variety of different soils.
I have a variety of horticulture, landscaping and garden design qualifications from Merrist Wood College and the English Gardening School in Chelsea. Despite that I’m still learning every day. Over the years I have built up a lot of knowledge of what works in a garden and that’s not necessarily what the gardening books will tell you!
Conditions in each garden vary but hopefully my thoughts on plants that are looking good and what you should be doing to keep them that way will be helpful to you.
It’s now high summer and the perennials are in full flower.
Verbena bonariensis creates a fantastic purple haze over flowerbeds in July. They are tall – 1.5 metres – but their form is so light and airy you can get away with planting them in front of shorter perennials if you want. They are great with tall, gold Rudbeckias like ‘Herbstonne’ or against creamy striped grasses. Good in gravel gardens because they seed everywhere but don’t worry they pull out easily if they pop up where they are not wanted. They need sunny dry positions but they may not survive a really cold winter.
Hydrangeas look good at this time of the year. The mop head varieties seem to be coming back into fashion but there are hundreds of different forms and colours to choose from. The key with Hydrangeas is not to let them dry out and not so plant them anywhere where the flowers will scorch in the sun.
Cotinus coggygria is a wonderful shrub with beautiful purple or bronze leaves. They are quite large – 3 or more metres if you don’t prune them. They can be pruned hard each year to keep them smaller. They are a great backdrop for yellow, white or acid green flowers and look especially good when the sun can shine through their leaves. Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’ has particularly large leaves.
Fuchsias are really underrated but they give you such good colour at this time of year. The hardy ‘Mrs Popple’ is an especially good red with a dark purple centre.
Plants in the mallow family such as cottage garden plants like Hollyhocks, Sidalceas and Malva moschatas are looking good now. Plant Hollyhocks amongst other tall perennials or shrubs to hide the foliage when it starts to get rust – which most of them do! Lavatera is a close relation – but more of a woody shrub that can get quite large. It tends to be short lived but still worth growing at the back of a flowerbed – ‘Barnsley’ is a beautiful pale pink.
Penstemons provide the best value colour at this time of year and beyond into autumn if you deadhead them. There are some rich purples such as ‘Purple Bedder’ and bright pinks like ‘Garnetti’ that are excellent. As with all perennials they are better planted in groups of 3 or 5.
What to do in the garden this month
Watering. It’s so hot at the moment even established plants can suffer. Water in the evening so flowers don’t scorch in the sun.
Deadheading can give you more flowers for some perennials and shrubs. Roses and bedding need regular deadheading to keep them flowering.
If it’s not too hot – now is a good time to trim evergreen hedges.
Cut back hardy Geraniums when they have finished flowering and you will get a new flush of fresh growth.
Cut back the long, young growth of Wisterias – back to 3 buds from the main stems. This stops it putting effort into growing long stems and conserves it’s energy for flowering next year. Any unwanted growth on Clematis montana or armandii can be just cut back now – to above a healthy pair of leaves.