5 jobs in the garden in July
This month’s gardening tips come from Claire Greenslade, head gardener at Hestercombe in Cheddon Fitzpaine, just outside Taunton. A visit to Hestercombe is a crash course in the history of garden design: there’s an 18th century landscape garden (Gothic folly, classical temple, waterfall), a Victorian terrace with tree roses straight from pages of Alice in Wonderland, and an Edwardian formal garden created by dynamic duo Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll.
The 100 acres are looked after by Clare, five gardeners and team of volunteers. Here are her must-do jobs in the garden this July…
Cut down delphinium
Cut your delphinium down once they have flowered. We also give them a little feed and a good water to encourage a second flush. Gertrude Jekyll had a neat trick for dealing with the gaps left by delphiniums. She would have pots of perennial sweet pea or gypsophilia ready to sink into the ground next to the delphinium. The space would be filled but it would still leave room for them to reshoot.
Iris rhizomes can get really congested so now is a great time to lift and divide them. This will improve the flowering for next year too. Dig up the rhizomes and either pull apart by hand or cut with a knife. Pick the healthy pieces with leaf growth and discard old woody or weak pieces. Reduce the leavers by half and then replant the rhizomes into a shallow hole and half bury them- they like to bake in the sun so don’t bury too deep. If you do this work now it gives the roots a chance to settle before the cold weather arrives.
Keep on top of any vulnerable plants with sufficient watering. We are quite tough with watering at Hestercombe. We water new plants in and then like to let them look after themselves. But if we go through a long dry spell we will give extra water to roses to prevent mildew.
Save seed from foxgloves
We have lots of white foxgloves in the garden and the seed is shaken out into paper bags and then sown as soon as possible. You get the best germination with fresh seed.
Sometimes this feels like a bit of a luxury job to us at Hestercombe but continuous deadheading really encourages more growth and keeps the plants flowering. This is especially true of roses and sweet peas. Plus it’s a lovely upright job after all that bending!