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Discover articles on garden design, seasonal planting tips for your garden and other news and views from Gillian Goodson Designs.

Indulge your senses in the July garden

 The bowl-shaped flowers of  Magnolia grandiflora (Gillian Goodson Designs)

The bowl-shaped flowers of Magnolia grandiflora (Gillian Goodson Designs)

It’s the height of summer so immerse yourself in laughter, surround yourself with friends and family, fire up the BBQ, dine alfresco and clink those glasses! Love life, be grateful for the good, laugh—release those endorphins and get active in the garden! 

Whether skipping to your heart’s content, or losing yourself in wondrous thought while watching linen blow on a summer breeze, enjoy the beauty of Magnolia grandiflora (bull bay), which starts flowering in July and will continue through to September. It offers a divine, and unexpected, lemon-vanilla scent, encased in the most gorgeous creamy bowl-shaped flowers set off against gloriously glossy dark green leaves. It is just as stunning trained against a sheltered wall or as a specimen evergreen tree. 

Much smaller in stature, much admired for its silkiness, is the tactile, loosely tufted Pennisetum villosum (feather top grass). While not all caterpillars are fluffy, the flower heads of this deciduous perennial is oft-compared to these fluffy creatures and may very well convert the hearts of non-grass lovers. Plant it in swathes or in a mixed border and take delight in their merry dance. 

Lavenders need little introduction. One to gush over is the silvery-green leafed Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ with its intense violet flowers. It makes a wonderful informal hedge and works just as well in a contemporary or rural setting. Bees love it and you will, too. Gently rub it against your palm, inhale and let your spirit soar. 

Roses are in abundance in July. Plant them with honeysuckle for a romantic cottage garden combination. A honeysuckle well worth its weight perfuming many a summer’s day is Lonicera periclymenum ‘Graham Thomas’. Its delightfully scented white flowers, which turn to a gentle, buttery yellow, will happily wind their way up a trellis, wall or lounge along a fence. 
You will need to deadhead your roses and remove faded flowers and seedpods from sweet peas to encourage new flowers. Be vigilant and wipe blackfly as soon as they appear on plant stems otherwise they will morph into an army and move in. 

Harvest those juicy blackcurrants. Keep an eye on courgettes—part of the fun is to pick them before they turn into marrows—it’s so easy to miss one! Keep up with watering but do water at the base of plants to miminise evaporation and scorch. Sow main crop carrots, lettuce, spring cabbage and the like. The battle with weeds continues —don’t let them ‘checkmate’ you. Dive into a bowlful of fresh British (if not home grown) strawberries. Just heavenly, cream optional!