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Helen's monthly choice - July

Helen Derrin

Helen Derrin, Crocus plant doctor


Last updated June 2024

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By now the garden should be looking rather smart, but if there are and gaps in borders, or if the patio still needs a bit more colour, then do a quick top up before sitting back and enjoying it all while the weather is good. Many of you wont be able to sit still for long though as there are always lots of little jobs that will niggle unless they're tackled. Things like deadheading flowers that are past their best, tying in wayward climbers, pulling out the occasional weed and some general primping and preening won't take long, and they can all be tackled with a cool drink in easy reach. The plants will need plenty of these too, so make sure you keep up on the watering and they don't go thirsty.

My favourites for July

Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'

Flowering prolifically right up until the end of summer, it's a great little doer, and lots of beneficial inserts (including bees) will find it irresistible. Perfect for hot sunny spots, and once established it becomes quite tolerant of drought. Plant it densely to create a low-growing, flowering hedge, pot it up to add colour to a sunny patio, or use it to to add months of colour to the front of the border. If you like a bit more formality, it can also be clipped to form relatively neat balls.


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Knautia macedonica

You can add bobbing buttons of intense plum to naturalised planting schemes and meadows (as well as more formal designs) with this drought-tolerant perennial. It sits beautifully alongside strong purples and blues, as well as acting as a vital accent to grasses, especially as they turn biscuit shades. It is long-flowering, highly attractive to butterflies, and self-seeds freely once it has become established.


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Astrantia 'Roma' (PBR)

A traditional cottage garden favourite, Astrantias are incredibly adaptable and useful, so they're often slipped into the show gardens at Chelsea, where their handsome foliage and button-like blooms are used to add textural interest to a wide range of planting styles. In the home garden, they also make first-rate cut flowers, and are noted for their long flowering season (if you deadhead them regularly) - usually blooming well into autumn.


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Erigeron karvinskianus

Perfect for softening the edges of a sunny border, this popular, easy to grow perennial forms a low maintenance, long flowering mound of colour throughout summer. Tolerant of a wide range of conditions including coastal gardens, it prefers a spot in full sun with freely draining soil that holds some moisture in summer. Don't be fooled by the dainty looking flowers, because this is a tough little plant that practically thrives on neglect - and as it self-seeds freely, once established, it will pop up here and there, filling gaps in borders or adding colour and softness to paved areas, steps and walkways.


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Penstemon 'Sour Grapes'

An excellent investment, 'Sour Grapes' can flower for ages, particularly if deadheaded regularly. The first blooms usually emerge in midsummer, but it is not unusual for them still to be appearing well into autumn - long after most plants have started dying back. The flowers are a great colour too, as they are so easy to mix. It’s a cracking plant that is easy to grow.


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