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EXPERTS TIPS FOR JULY
By Pat Hubbard

Abutilon Megapotanicum

Abutilon Megapotanicum - a good patio plant

It is high summer and time to relax and enjoy the garden, but in the cool of the evening it is very relaxing to walk round and dead-head the flowers in your hanging baskets and patio pots. Make sure these have plenty of water during hot, dry spells, as they can dry out very quickly. If you find that your hanging basket has really dried out and plants are suffering very badly, it is worth finding a container large enough to submerge the basket in water to the top of the compost. Leave for a few minutes, so that the compost has a thorough soaking, then hang up to drain any excess water. Provided the plants were just droopy and the leaves had not turned crispy, the plants should revive.

Roses also benefit from regular dead-heading, this encourages more flowers and helps keep the bush in good shape. Watch out for suckers, which are shoots growing from the root and are usually a lighter colour than the rest of the bush, the leaves are smaller and they also often have many very small sharp thorns. If you see a sucker, you need to scrape away the soil, trace it back, and pull it away from the main root, or cut it as close as possible to the root. Avoid hoeing too deeply near roses as this will often damage the root, and this in turn encourages suckers to form. Keep a close eye open for rose black spot, if you find it soon enough you can simply pick off the affected leaves and destroy them.

Lavender is in full flower now and can be cut and dried for winter arrangements. Cut the stalk when the flowers are just showing colour. Tie loosely and hang in a warm place such as a shed or greenhouse to dry. They can then be used for flower arrangements or rubbed from the stem for use in pot-pourri or lavender bags.

Abutilon Megapotanicum

Thunbergia grandiflora

Unusual patio plants such as Abutilon Megapotanicum and Thunbergia grandiflora, with its lavender-blue trumpet flowers are growing strongly now, and give a Mediterranean feel to the patio. The exotic looking Cestrum with its flame coloured, waxy looking flowers also make an unusual patio pot, these plants are not fully hardy and will need to be in a frost-free green-house over winter. Although these plants are quite unusual they are all widely available in the horticultural department of your local supermarket.

Slugs can be a real pest at this time of year, happily devouring the leaves of your Hosta's and other plants while you sleep. It's worth remembering that they seem to dislike hairy or waxy-leaved plants and if you include varieties such as hardy Geraniums, Ferns, Penstemons, Alchemilla mollis and Grasses in your mixed borders, this will help to deter them, as will a mulch of bark or something similar. Beer traps can also be effective, birds such as thrushes and blackbirds will help deplete the slug and snail population and hedgehogs and frogs also enjoy a meal. Encouraging wildlife into your garden will help alleviate the need for slug pellets, which may kill the slugs, but are not very good for the birds and other helpful creatures that inhabit your garden.

This column kindly supplied by:Englands Experts

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