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July - in the garden this month

There is so much going on in the bumblebee garden at the moment with flowers everywhere. The bright pink rambling rose American Pillar is making a blinding display along the fence. The new raised beds in the kitchen corner have proved their worth with the added depth of soil supporting a vigorous crop of beans (broad, French and runners), peas and other produce. There are some spectacular sunflowers standing straight and about to bloom. You can see the small canes which supported them when they were first planted, but now they have massive strong stems. These not only feed the pollinators, but the resulting seeds will provide food for small seed-eating birds later in the year. You may notice odd plants of teasel, borage and phacelia in the garden which have self-seeded and been allowed to grow because they too are valuable to pollinators.

The lavender mini-hedges which edge the paths in are just breaking into flower. This will be a heart-lifting sight for several months. The variety is Grosso (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’), and apart from pruning, it has no special care, no feeding, and is easy to grow. It was planted in the summer of 2017, so this is its sixth year and it’s still going strong. It is a particularly vigorous hybrid which is used commercially because of its high oil content and strong fragrance. In the productive area, next to the children’s play area, is a bed with five different lavenders growing in adjacent blocks so customers can see and compare their growth habits.

Also in this area is a fabulous display of sweet pea Matucana. This is an old variety, first recorded in England in about 1700. It has since been used in the breeding of modern sweet peas because of its outstanding fragrance. The flowers are bicoloured red and purple, and it has a long flowering season, continuing after many others have run out of steam. It has conveniently been planted close to the path for easy picking, and easy sniffing.