July garden tips with plants expert Keith Clouting

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:00 01 July 2020

Leptospermum scoparium 'Red Damask'. Photo: Keith Clouting

Leptospermum scoparium 'Red Damask'. Photo: Keith Clouting

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Great gardening tips for July with Taverham Nursery Centre expert Keith Clouting

Acer Palmatum 'Bloodgood'. Photo: Keith CloutingAcer Palmatum 'Bloodgood'. Photo: Keith Clouting

As we reach the hottest part of the year plants which flower right through the summer are invaluable. An excellent group of flowers for this are the Agastaches, which have become increasingly popular over the last few years.

The Kudos series of Agastaches introduced a few years ago have extended the colour range which now includes red, gold, coral, and mandarin, pink and silver blue. This relatively new range has also has improved hardiness and reliability, all have aromatic foliage and flower throughout the summer until early autumn, reaching around 50cm high when in bloom.

Other good Agastache varieties include ‘Liquorice Blue’ which is a magnet for bees and butterflies, attracted to its dense conical spikes of purple-blue flowers which are produced in profusion, A.’Black Adder’ is another good, reliably perennial, variety; its two-lipped violet-blue flowers emerge from dark buds held in dense spikes growing to around 90cm.

Agastaches enjoy growing in a sunny position in well-drained soil. They also make good container plants and are attractive to bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. Agastaches are generally pest-free and deer and rabbit resistant. Some varieties are occasionally subject to mildew and, if grown in heavier soil, cuttings should be taken in late summer as an insurance against losing plants in cold wet winters.

Agastache 'Kudos Coral'. Photo: Keith CloutingAgastache 'Kudos Coral'. Photo: Keith Clouting

Plant of the month

Leptospermum scoparium ‘Red Damask’

This striking, free-flowering shrub, commonly known as the New Zealand Tea Tree, is a bushy evergreen with needle-like deep green leaves which are aromatic when crushed. Its bee-friendly, rich double pink-red blooms are produced late spring to summer and are followed by small, hard seed capsules. Leptospermum prefer well-drained neutral to acid soil in a warm sunny position; keep moist when young but when established they are drought tolerant and relatively pest free.

Agastache 'Kudos Mandarin'. Photo: Keith CloutingAgastache 'Kudos Mandarin'. Photo: Keith Clouting

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Question time

I would like to grow a dark-leaved Acer (Japanese maple) but my soil is alkaline and the garden is quite sunny. Could I grow one in a container instead?

Yes, you could grow one in a container but Japanese maples will grow quite happily in your alkaline soil. The acidity in soil just can just mean a bit more colour in autumn. They will even grow over chalk if there is a good depth of soil. Purple-leaved Acers are also happy in sun but dislike wind and drying out at the roots so if you can provide a sheltered site with enough moisture dark leaved varieties such as A.P. Bloodgood, Trompenburg, or Skeeters Broom, for example should grow well in your garden.

JOBS FOR JULY

Keep feeding and deadheading bedding and basket plants to keep the show going. If some plants look leggy trim them back and give them a generous feed to encourage more colour later in the summer.

Cherries can be pruned if necessary as soon as fruiting has finished; always prune when in leaf.

Snip the tops out of climbing beans when they reach the top of their supports to encourage the maximum crop from the side shoots.

The vegetable plot may need additional water in hot weather; tomatoes, courgettes, celery, peas and beans in particular.

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