This Month in the Garden (July 2021) with Derek Cox

During June many of my larger flowering Clematis were in flower and although I have many, one of my favourites is Clematis ‘Special Occasions’, pictured above, which I grow in a 15 litre container on an obelisk against the North facing wall of my garage. ‘Special Occasions’ has large lilac pink flowers and as it loves the cool area in which it is growing it will flower over a period of three months. This only needs a trim to neaten it up during late March. The majority of my Clematis are grown with their roots in the shade as my soil dries out very quickly and Clematis do not thrive in hot dry soils.
I do grow Schizophragma hydrangoides against the East facing wall of my house, this self clinging climber provides me with a mass of white flowers during late June and July. The flowers are tiny, but are margined with large white bracts. Last year I purchased Schizophragma ‘Rose Sensation’ which as its name suggests has pink flowers. I planted this against a South facing fence where I thought it would be happy, but the April frosts caused all of the new growth to turn brown. This got me guessing as the plant was sheltered by shrubs on the East and South East sides. On close inspection I found the reason for the frost damage was due to there being a gap between the fence panel and the soil beneath and this allowed frost and cold winds to come beneath the fence and damage the plant.
However, it is now producing new growth and I have filled in the gap beneath.
Cistus are evergreen shrubs which vary greatly in form and flower colour. There is a beauty in one of the borders at Syston station, In my front garden Cistus ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, pictured right, puts on a brilliant display, not only with its mass of white flowers in June, but also with its bright yellow foliage throughout the year. I purchased this some seven years ago at an alpine exhibition when it was displayed in a 9cm pot so I thought due to its name it would make a small plant for my rockery.
Luckily, I planted it in the gravel scree where it now forms a shrub some two feet high by three feet across (50cmx90cm) June. I now prune this as soon as it has finished flowering and take a few semi hardwood cuttings during late July to root in my greenhouse.
In the past I have mentioned my love of silver leafed Saxifrages, which being evergreen put on a lovely display in rockeries, screes and containers. Although these prefer well drained soil in containers they should not be allowed to dry out during the growing season. I have one which now forms a carpet some six feet (1.8m) across and this is now in massed with hundreds of panicles of white flowers. The rosettes of many silver Saxifrages will die after they have set seed so these will then need to be removed to make way for young emerging rosettes.
Here I must mention a seedling Sempervivum which last year appeared in amongst some small stones. This forms rosettes of red leaves edged by a dense mass of white cobweb-like hairs.
My ‘St George’ runner beans that I sowed in my heated propagator during the last week in April grew so fast I had to pot them up by early June and now they are planted three plants in each 50 litre black tree tub with a wigwam of six feet (1.8m) tall canes. As they are now starting to flower I should be picking young beans in two weeks time.