Nature Calendar: July in the British Garden


July is frequently a wetter month than June, but weather permitting, the harvest progresses. The latter part of the month and the early part of August, are considered the peak of high summer.


Daisies add colour to the border in July. Bold groups of phlox make a gay display alongside sedums, astilbes, bergamots, cornflowers and Achillea Gold Plate, and the white or yellow spikes of lysimachia. Pansies should continue to flower if the dead heads are removed. Annual nasturtiums are blooming, and antirrhinums are at their best. Roses can be cut freely for indoor decoration, and begonias are beginning to flower. Tubs are bright with velvety coleus, Aethionema Warley Rose is blooming in the rock garden, and in the pool the water lilies are opening.


Heather is one of the main attractions in July, including the purple-flowered bell heather of the drier moors and commons and the pink-flowered cross-leaved heather on wetter moors and bogs. Ling flowers somewhat later, while bilberry grows best on northerly sites and in partial shade. Sometimes the small red flowers of dodder, a parasite on heathers, can be seen, and the yellow of dwarf furze often provides a further contrast. Several bellflowers related to the Canterbury bell are in flower—harebells in dry places; the taller nettle-leaved bellflower on hedge banks in the south; and the great bellflower farther north.

Greater bindweed is flowering now, twined among roadside hedges, as well as traveller’s joy, though this is confined to chalk and limestone soils in the south. On dry banks and in the woods are wood sage and golden-rod, and on the verges wild carrot and wild parsnip. Great willow-herb, meadowsweet, marsh valerian, gipsywort and great water dock are seen on damp ground, and sundew and bog asphodel in quite boggy places.


Lavender is in full bloom, and the heads are ready to be cut and dried for lavender bags. The summer jasmine, Jasminum officinale, is covered with fragrant white flowers, while Erica vagans and the spiky flowers of yucca are starting to bloom. Buddleias are still a mass of colour, and there are purple, feathery flowers on the smoke tree, Rhus cotimis, matching the blooms on several varieties of Clematis jackmanii. The pink or red flowers of escallonia blend very well with the bold, deep carmine of Fuchsia magellanica and F.m. Riccartonii. Deutzias, too, are in bloom.


The woods are almost silent now on hot, sultry days, for few birds are singing. A number of second broods are still unfledged and some birds have a third brood to hatch and rear. For many, however, this is the turn of the year. Their breeding season is over, and they can now range freely in search of food. Some species gather into flocks, and the first swallows may assemble on the telephone wires late in the month—the start of a leisurely movement southward.


The summer broods of several butterflies will be seen in the garden this month, including the peacock, the holly blue, the brimstone and the wall. The brown argus and silver-studded blue stay on the short-turfed commons, while the chalkhill blue and the grayling are seen on limestone soils. The hedge brown frequents both commons and country lanes, often settling on bramble bushes.

The dark green and silver-washed fritillaries fly over commons, but the high brown fritillary is restricted to the woods, as is the purple hairstreak. The latter, though common, is often difficult to see, as it flies very high and settles at the top of tall oak trees.

Mosquitoes, midges, clegs, and other biting flies are uncomfortably plentiful in the woods at this time.


The hedgehog, a welcome visitor to the garden since it cats snails and slugs, pro-duces its young in July. In the woods, young deer are also born at this time.

Newts, which lay eggs on the leaves of water plants, can still be seen in ponds.

16. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, Garden Management, Gardening Calendar | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Nature Calendar: July in the British Garden


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