Peter’s Gardening Tips for July

Summer is here! Phew what a scorcher the first couple of weeks and now for something cooler with some precipitation at last for southern England.

Looking like another exceptional year for fruit, berries and nuts here in the south. Let me know if it looks the same else where in Great Britain.

Incredible flowering on blackberries, fingers crossed for the fruit.

Hampton Court Flower Show was a joy but very hot for all- humans and plants alike. Congratulations to everybody involved for all their hard work in temperatures to fry an egg on a car bonnet! 36.7°C in the shade!

Perennial and Yardley

Perennial and Yardley at Hampton Court

Answering gardening questions with the RHS Advisory Department was a real honour, great fun, enjoyable and brain taxing. Loads of questions were asked, hopefully leading to contented visitors leaving with helpful advice!

Here are some of the questions and conundrums asked which I hope you find useful.

Fungal problems:

  • Powdery mildew on honeysuckle, laurels and many other plants. Black spot on roses. Clematis wilt.
  • Leaves scorched, shrivelling, dropping off on plants especially Japanese Acers. Move to a more sheltered spot.

Many of the problems are attributed to the lack of rain, causing stress in plants- they then become more susceptible to diseases just like us!

TLC is required, regular watering with a liquid feed containing seaweed helps combat stress in plants. I wish this was as easy for us!

Vitax and Maxicrop make seaweed liquid feed. Read the label!

Insect problems:

  • Aphids, Greenfly, Black fly and Woolly aphid (white cotton fluff.)

Massive problem this year as no real rain to wash them off. Large numbers on fruit trees causing curly leaves.

Prune off affected leaves and spray with SB Plant invigorator. Keep fed and watered.

Plants against walls of houses and fences not performing:

Rain shadow effect, need to water, feed and mulch.

Fruit dropping off trees:

  • Fruit trees naturally shedding excessive fruit to only support what it can feed and support.

Nature thinning the fruit which is still so important to do if the tree is still burgeoning with fruit. Any fruit touching other fruit has the potential to cause bruising or spread disease, brown rot…

As above keep fed and watered.

“I have learnt during the past years what above all I want from a garden;
this is tranquillity”
Ralph Dutton (1898-1985).

Jobs to do:

  1. Hoeing, weeding, watering and feeding are essential this month.
  2. Old faded flowers need removing regularly on all plants, roses, bedding and herbaceous plants to ensure more flowers continue to be produced.
  3. Sow now Runner beans or climbing french beans for a late summer/ autumn crop. Also Salad crops, spinach, kohl rabi, endive, carrots and turnips.
  4. Excessive non- fruiting growth on plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apricots can be removed  to open the centre of a fruit tree, aiding fruit ripening, light and air. This can also be done to wall or trained fruit trees.
  5. Squirrels are helping themselves to apples already! Cover and protect any fruit from birds too.
  6. Prune shrubs that have finished flowering. Cut out old stems to the ground on Spireas, Weigela, Philadelphus, Deutzia. Large overgrown plants can be reduced by 50%. This autumn you will get plenty of regrowth and flowers next year. Don’t be frightened.
  7. Trim box hedges, topiary, yew on a dry day not in baking sunshine. Use clean, sharp tools. Collect up all the clippings and the rubbish in the hedge needs blowing out with a blower or shake / brush/ comb out with your hands with good gloves on.

This is the month for the heady scents in a garden:

Rosa 'Jayne Austin' (Ausbreak) David Austin Roses

Rosa ‘Jayne Austin’ (Ausbreak) David Austin Roses

Roses, Philadelphus (mock orange), Jasmin, Honeysuckle, Lilies, Lavender etc. Many smell stronger in the evening, so make sure you take time out to enjoy them or plant some to create something truly sensuous.

What are your favourite scented plants and why?
Many memories are evoked and stirred by smell…….

Enjoy visits to other gardens especially if you are on holiday.


Happy Gardening
Regards Peter Mills

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Peter Mills

I love everything to do with natural history, wildlife, biodiversity and of course horticulture - basically the big outdoors. I grew up with very good teachers namely my parents and my French grandfather who was a superb grower of vegetables. At Hadlow College I studied a three year OND in Horticulture. I had a market stall selling plants. Went onto wholesaling house plants to florists and garden centres across southern England. In 1986 I joined Clandon Park Garden Centre as manager. Whilst there I started my career as a gardening radio presenter with the BBC Southern Counties Radio. This continued for 15 years, building up valuable contacts with the RHS Wisley, live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows etc. Since 1998 I have been self-employed, working as a Head Gardener and in private gardens . Through the RHS Advisory Department at Wisley I advise on horticultural problems in members gardens, including pest & disease problems, lawn-care advice, pruning of wisterias, fruit trees, roses, wildlife gardening, growing fruit & vegetables, creating wildflower meadows, identifying plants and control of pernicious weeds. I am an extremely lucky guy who loves what I do and the trade called Horticulture!

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31st Jul 2015
Thanks for voting!
Can you please tell me why some of my courgette's are going yellow on the top end of the courgette and shrivelling.
Peter Mills
9th Aug 2015
Thanks for voting!
Hi Mamia,
Courgettes are very hungry plants and need a good soak every other day in hot weather. Liquid feed weekly with tomato feed. You should find they recover quickly unless you have a stem rot or slug/ snail damage.
Kind regards Peter.
21st Jul 2015
Thanks for voting!
My petunias are getting very leggy. Is it ok to cut the back to encourage new growth?
Peter Mills
29th Jul 2015
Thanks for voting!
Petunias can be cut back to make them regrow. Keep fed and watered. Take off old flowers regularly.
Regards Peter
ps Sorry for the late reply. Away on hols.
20th Jul 2015
Thanks for voting!
What should we do with a pear tree making excessive growth?
Peter Mills
29th Jul 2015
Thanks for voting!
Hi Supersal52,
Cut back excessive growth to 3-4 leaves, opening up the centre of the tree to allow the fruit to ripen, more air,less fungal diseases. If a wall trained tree still cut back to make spurs as above. Keep fruit trees fed and watered.
Regards Peter

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