Loving the summer

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July is often one of the hottest months of the year and the perfect time to enjoy your outside living space and garden.

Make sure you keep plants well watered, using grey water such as bath water or washing up water where possible, and keep an eye on weeds. You can also now see what plants are working well in the garden – from a colour mix and landscaping perspective.

If you are still looking for inspiration then visit one of the many gardens that open to the public via the charity Scotland’s Gardens. For open times and more information of gardens in your area, visit www.scotlandsgardens.org/gardens/districtlist/

A plant that is loved by landscapers and novice gardeners alike for its colour and structure is the much loved Salvia. It’s also a favourite of BBC Gardener’s World presenter Pippa Greenwood.

She said: “I’m a great fan of the hardier salvias. Even before the buds open they are attractive plants with erect stems, often with aromatic foliage and forming a sort of clump of exclamation marks. Then, when the flowers appear, usually in shades of violet, purple, pink or white, they can bring any sunny border to life instantly. Provide these plants with a well-drained but humus-rich soil and plenty of sun and they are easy to grow ... seriously rewarding and simply gorgeous!”

Salvias are long flowering, with the potential to put on a great show from June through much of the summer and into autumn.

If you remove the flower spikes as soon as they have faded (or give the entire plant a serious haircut as soon as the last of the flowers fade) then they will keep flowering and you can often enjoy a second flush of flowers in October. They are much loved, not only by gardeners but also by bees and butterflies.

THINGS TO DO

Although July is a time to put your feet up and relax in the garden there are still a few tasks to keep you busy. Top tips for this month from the Royal Horticultural Society and National Garden Gift Vouchers:

z Place conservatory plants outside now that it is warm

z Water tubs and new plants if dry, but be water-wise

z Deadhead plants to ensure continuous flowering

z Support tall plants and flowers with stakes

z Pick courgettes before they become marrows and harvest other fruit and veg

z Clear algae, blanket weeds and debris from ponds, and keep them topped up

z Order catalogues for next year’s spring-flowering bulbs

z Give the lawn a summer feed, especially if not given a spring feed

z Keep on top of weeding

z Keep an eye out for pests ... they don’t have summer 
holidays!