Gardening Club - Relax in the sights and smells of your July garden
23 Jun 2017

Chieveley Gardening Club on July in the garden. Plus July garden activities for you. 

July is supposed to be the hottest month of the year (so what happened in June?). The garden should be at its most colourful with many plants reaching their peak. The fruit and vegetable garden should be keeping us busy with cooking and preserving or freezing and simply enjoying the glut! Many of us can afford to be generous with our surpluses - there comes a point when there are far too many tomatoes!

The need for water can make garden plants, including established trees and shrubs, look tired. In my garden, I was saddened by a young Sorbus and a 10-year-old Cornus tree looking wilted to the point of crispiness. The soil in Chieveley is often thin and free-draining and this, compounded by our dry winter, means that the soil has little reserve.

What to do? In the short term, we can all water eagerly but that is costly (and sometimes frowned upon) and tends to encourage plants to produce surface roots In the longer term, maybe we should grow plants that thrive with the local soil conditions: lavender, Salvias and Cistus do well on our soil but we are unlikely to make Astilbe, Candelabra Primula or buxom Hydrangeas happy. Beth Chatto's famous book on the dry garden is well worth a read. Her garden is near Colchester where rainfall is low and the soil gravelly. She rose to the challenge of working with her soil to produce a stunning and extensive garden (open to the public).

I try to confine watering to pots and tubs on the terrace as well as short-term seasonal crops like tomatoes and beans. If you are considering a choice plants, always think about how you will provide sufficient water in the summer months. Water in the evening to allow it to soak in overnight rather than evaporating immediately in the heat of the day. Creating a saucer-shaped depression around shrubs will help to confine the water close to the plant.

But, above all, enjoy your garden. Seek out a shady spot, find a comfortable chair and lose yourself in a good book - and make sure that can look out onto the garden that you have created; notice the scents, the colours and the textures. Rejoice in your garden at its peak.

Happy Gardening,

Giles Derry

Dates for your diary
Saturday 1 July. Summer Flower Show at 2.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. Why not show some of your roses, sweet peas, delphiniums or early crops? There are also domestic produce classes (recipes for Spice Loaf and Cherry and Almond Fingers are provided), handicraft, photography and children's classes. Or simple come along and admire our efforts. For more information contact the show secretary, Michael Pocock, on 248213.

For more details on shows, events and gardening tips see Chieveley Gardening Club, email or phone 248716.