July is here– surely it has to be a good one to make up for the dull and soggy year we have had to date! This is mostly a month for maintaining what you have already got, rather than planting lots of new stuff.

In the flower garden you should be dead-heading both bedding plants such as pelargoniums and petunias, and herbaceous perennials such as roses and dahlias. If you don’t, they’ll set seed and that will be the end of their flowering for the year. Dead-heading is really just mimicking the grazing by animals that they would experience in the wild. You can be even more tough on hardy geraniums; they will look untidy after flowering, so cut all of the top growth off and you will be rewarded by fresh foliage, and possibly a second flowering.

If you have anything growing in containers then it will need regular watering, and weekly feeding with a high potash feed, to encourage good root, flower and fruit formation. If you use a high nitrogen feed then you’ll just get lots of lush foliage. The RHS website has a really good explanation of what plants to feed, with what, and when.

In the veg garden it’s mainly a case of watering, watering and watering (unless July carries on like the year has been so far), particularly the very thirsty courgettes, squashes and pumpkins. Tomatoes will need regular watering and feeding, and keep removing side-shoots, unless you are growing a bushy variety. Once you have picked the crop, currants and gooseberry bushes can be pruned. Aim to cut back this year’s growth to within a few leaves of old wood. Try to thin the centre of the plant as this will encourage air and light in. Unlike apples and pears, which you prune in winter, you should prune plum trees now.

Talking of winter, get ready for Christmas! Seed potato varieties such as Maris Piper and Nicola can be sown ready for Christmas harvest, and spring cabbage can also be sown towards the end of the month.

It’s well worth multiplying what you already have, with penstemons, lavender and salvias all being easy to grow from cuttings. Many shrubs, such as philadelphus, deutzia, hydrangea and honeysuckle can also be propagated in this way.

There are lots of National Garden Scheme garden openings to choose from including Honeyhurst farm in Rodney Stoke on the 7 and 8th, Milton Lodge in Wells on the 14th, and four gardens in the village of Stowey on the 21st.