Our gardens are probably at their best in mid-summer. Thatched cottages draped with honeysuckle and roses epitomise the idea of England and summer. I love roses but was brought up in a garden where only Hybrid Tea roses were grown. My father used to prune then down to about 30cm and then cover the whole bed with muck, not an attractive sight!
I have species roses in our meadow, all chosen with interesting hips, some like large gooseberries and others long and thin, a delight in October. On the house we have R. Alister Stella Grey which has tight pale-yellow buds fading to cream and looks good against our old brick. It also smells delicious, I cannot see any point in growing roses without a scent Also on the house we have old fashioned R. New Dawn, a soft pink and again very fragrant. If you have fences or pergolas and want to grow roses on them, look for shrub roses and not climbers or ramblers both of which become too large very quickly and need too much attention. My favourite shrub rose is R. Gertrude Jekyll, beautiful rosette of bright pink and with the fragrance you would expect from a great rose, good on a pergola.
Tomatoes are at their best in July. I like to grow several different varieties and I buy them as seedlings from Simpsons Seeds. They have a huge choice and I grow Yellow Mini which are tiny and taste good, Favorita which is red and normal sized and with excellent flavour. I love beef tomatoes and grill them with garlic and basil, John Hawkins does well in my greenhouse. I used to grow them in grow bags but found watering a problem and now grow them in 10 litre pots which makes life easier.
Herbs for taste and foliage
Basil is one of the herbs I grow in the greenhouse, it is almost impossible outside but easy from seed on a windowsill or in the greenhouse. Tarragon is another herb I have in the greenhouse, so many chicken recipes need it and it is not hardy outside. If you buy a plant make sure it is French Tarragon as Russian does not taste nearly as good. I also grow apple mint, it tastes so much better than spearmint and makes the best mint sauce. Do plant it in a large pot, it will run all over the garden if you let it loose. Sage is another useful herb, not only to cook with but as a decorative evergreen in the garden. The soft grey is excellent with pink and blue flowers and I love the purple leaved form. They do need well drained conditions and you can cut them back in April if they become straggly.
Add Foliage Plants to Your Borders
Do look at your garden in July and see if you can add foliage plants to improve your borders, too many bright colours together are jarring and often silver or purple foliage ties the planting together and makes the garden more interesting.
Enjoy your summer.