Gardens are a riot of colour this month. Bella gardening expert Kim Wilde explains how to keep yours looking its best.
Right now annuals such as larkspurs, cornflowers and love-in-a-mist are at their best, vegetables and fruit are ripening and the colour in the garden is breathtaking, rewarding you for all your hard work.
Make sure you have a permanent perch to retreat to in a warm, sheltered spot so you can make the most of the weather and enjoy your garden with a nice cold drink at your elbow.
Surround yourself with aromatic herbs such as rosemary and lemon balm as well as fragrant flowers such as sweet peas, stocks and scented-leaved geraniums.
Ponds and all garden water features lose a lot of water through evaporation in warm weather, so check the level regularly and make sure the pump is underwater.
A great way to wipe out pond algae naturally is with Norfolk Lavender Pond Pads. They consist of a mixture of lavender straw and barley straw, and come complete with a holder to keep them upright, priced £7.90 (call 0870 243 0418 to order).
My favourite plants this month
I have planted lilium regale (Regal lilies) in containers around the patio where they fill the air with an intoxicating fragrance. Their pure white trumpets glow in the twilight on tall elegant stems.
In my most colourful border I love to see a Cotinus 'Grace' smoke bush. Although it's a little late to break into leaf, by now its translucent warm, purple leaves shimmer in the summer heart.
Lychnis chalcedonica (The Jerusalem cross) looks wonderful planted with a smoke bush. This clump-forming perennial is hassle-free and self-seeds freely. The brilliant red flowers glow on 1.2m (4ft) stems.
Everybody loves hollyhocks, the cottage garden flowers. The dark red/purple variety 'Nigra' is a favourite and thrives in my garden against a sunny wall.
It needs to be in a sheltered spot where the wind won't be a problem for the tall stems, which can reach 2m (6½ ft).
Jobs to do in July
- The flower buds of camellias and rhododendrons are formed in the summer, so make sure the plants are kept moist during the next two months. If they get too dry the buds will drop next spring.
- You'll spend less time worrying about your container plants if you install an automatic watering system. The systems cost from around £50 at garden centres and are wonderfully handy when you're away on holiday.