28th July. Please be aware that due to Covid notifications and staff shortages, some courier depots have reported potential delays in deliveries.

July Monthly Inspiration

After an unusually hot and dry period in May and early June the hydrangea season is again upon us. Perhaps the last great spectacle in a woodland garden before the onset of autumn or the highlight of a mixed shrub and herbaceous border.

Consider being a bit more adventurous with your choice of hydrangea and why not consider some of the species which are less widely known:

Hydrangea aspera Villosa Group, commonly known as H. villosa, is one of the loveliest of the summer flowering hydrangeas and perhaps one of the top ten of all flowering shrubs. Its domed flower heads are lilac-blue and each is surrounded with individual florets. It has a compact habit and thrives in full sun in a dry location. 

Hydrangea sargentiana ‘Gold Rush’ has stunning golden yellow foliage edged with orange. It may turn green in summer in a shadier location but turns orange again in the autumn. The large bluish mauve flower heads stand upright from the shrub and are surrounded with dainty white florets. What a contrast set against the yellow leaves! 

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’ is another sensational performer and much admired in the Burncoose gardens. It has dense terminal panicles of pure white ray floret flowers which gradually turn pink and then, by September, turn dark pink. We grow this in semi shade on a steep bank for maximum effect. Flower sizes can be increased by infrequent hard pruning to allow the plant to regenerate. 

The immediate priority in the herbaceous border is to remove old flower heads to prevent your plants wasting energy by producing large quantities of seeds. Handpick the seed heads on your Iris, Papaver and Alstroemeria once they have finished flowering. Cut off the flower spikes on your lupins and Delphinium and get ready to do the same on your Eryngium and Verbascum. Many of these plants will reshoot (and some may even have secondary flowers later in the year) vigorously and, with the energy saved, be ready to perform much better next year.

We can all be good at deadheading our roses to encourage more immediate flowers but we are much less good at doing the same to other herbaceous plants.

After the rains finally came in June many smaller shrubs will now have made good soft new growth. Softwood cuttings of Hydrangea, Weigela, Ceanothus and Cistus – to mention but a few – should be hurried on to the mist bench where, with some bottom heat, they will root quickly and be ready for potting on well before autumn. Watch a short video on softwood cuttings.

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