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Your garden in July

"Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless." - Terri Guillemets

  In mid-winter nothing can compare the beauty of deciduous trees leafless against the blue winter sky or the bulbs that you had planted starting to flower on a cold windy winters day.

This is the perfect time of the year to attend to the structural changes you have planned to do in your garden for some time now. If you have any woodwork now would be a great time to sand the wood down and to varnish it. Levelling out pathways, adding stepping stones and fixing walls or retaining walls can be done in this month. Any plants that might block your view or have taken over an area, now would be a good time to move them or prune them.

If you are living in a very cold area or in areas where you have plenty of frost you will wait until the end of July or beginning of August to start pruning your plants. If your area is fairly protected from freezing cold temperatures you could start pruning plants in your garden during this month. Do not prune shrubs that are leafless and that flower in spring. You will cut off all the nodes that are busy developing and will land up not having in flowers in spring. Shrubs to prune will be your evergreen varieties such as Syzygiums (Eugenia), Coprosma and Myrtus. Hydrangeas should be pruned at the end of July.  Shrubs such as Spiraea japonica and Lagerstroemia indica must be pruned in July if needed otherwise they will not flower at a later stage.

One plant that will need pruning now will be your roses. Roses are pruned back by at least two-thirds just above the node at an angle. You make the cut at an angle so that water will run-off. This is to minimise pests and diseases from attacking the rose at such a vulnerable stage. What works well to protect the roses wounds (cut) is to use a product such as ????(Steriseal or similar). This would seal the open cut and would protect the rose from any form of attack. Plants are most vulnerable when injured. Once you have pruned your roses place well broken down cow manure at the base of the rose and start a feeding plan where you will feed them with an organic fertiliser every few weeks. Start watering your roses as often as possible. If you look after your roses they in return will give you a beautiful show.

"Snails do not despair for having short legs, but rejoice for being able to travel long distances in spite of them."  - Matshona Dhliwayo

A pest to watch out for this time of year is snails. They attack plants such as Clivia, daffodils and Narcissus. Use a snail bait such as ????.  Snails hide during the day and feed at night. They can be very annoying and can cause a lot of harm to your plants. Birds can also be a nuisance this time of year due to the lack of food. They can start eating various plants in your garden and vegetable patch. Set up feeding stations for them which will hopefully distract them from your plants. You would want to encourage birds in your garden as they control insects.

Some indoor plants suffer from the lack of humidity due to us heating rooms in our homes. Place a bowl of water near the plants which will help with moisture. Beautiful indoor plants that struggle from a lack of humidity are Calceolaria, Primula and Cyclamen.

"Winter is a season of recovery and preparation." - Paul Theroux

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