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Gardening Month By Month: July Gardening Tips and Projects
How to treat your garden when the July sun is shining
July is our seventh month and is thirty-one days long a month of heat and sunshine. The Romans called it Quintilis, the fifth month, but after the death of Julius Caesar they renamed it in his honour. He was born on 12th July 102 B.C. Our Anglo Saxon forefathers termed it Hey-monat , because they then made their hay harvest; and also Maed-monat, from the meads being then in full bloom. Through the centuries the name of the month was known as Julio, luyl, and lule. It became July soon after the Great Fire of London in 1666, although for a long time after it was pronounced to rhyme with truly.
Your flower garden should now be a sight to gladden the heart: flowers galore will be blooming and I’ll give you a tip for having more flowers later on. Most flowers as you know, produce seeds, and the producing of these seeds weakens the plants; therefore, do not be afraid to gather as many flowers as possible. Snip them off with long stalks, and this will encourage the plants to produce more flowers, and will also make the buds which are left on the plant stronger, so that they will produce larger flowers. This especially applies to Sweet Peas.
There is quite a lot to be done this month. If the weather is hot, as is usual in this month, you will want to do a lot of watering, and the hoe, too, should do its task in breaking up the surface of the ground. The free use of the hoe is often as good as watering. The British weather in July has never been reliable. A proverb of 1732:
“If the first of July be rainy weather, ‘Twill rain more or less for four weeks together.”
Then, there are quite a lot of plants that will need staking. Also, weeds will need attention, for they will be growing strongly now, and must be regularly routed.
Cuttings that can be saved and planted in sandy soil
There is no better time than this for taking cuttings of Pinks; also, Thyme and Lavender.
Both the Pinks and the Lavender should be taken off with a heel, it is best to break them off. These should be planted in sandy soil, and you will find that they will soon produce roots, or strike, as we call it.
Iris bulbs, too, can be planted in July. Also, cuttings of Pansies can be taken and struck in the open ground, or placed in a box of sandy soil and taken into the house for a week or so.
Do not forget to spray rose-trees to keep greenfly at bay. Place inverted terracotta flower-pots with a wisp of hay inside, on the top of the stakes of Dahlias, so as to trap earwigs.
In your vegetable garden you can sow French Beans for a late crop. Root crops too, should be thinned out and do not be afraid to do this as well, becuse you can never produce fine crops if the plants are crowded. Of course, you will not plant the thinnings; these can be thrown away or added to the compost heap.
Another job to do about this time is to take up the bulbs of Daffodils, Tulips and such-like plants. Let them lie in the sun for a few days, and then store them away in a paper bag.
Michaelmas Daisies usually grow in clumps, and you should take up some of the outside portions and replant them, so as to produce new roots.
Forty Days of Rain
July 15th is St Swithun’s day. Swithun was a Bishop of Winchester, in England, who lived around 1100 years ago.
He was born at Winchester in the year 800, and was a monk of the Abbey of Winchester, and after that, Archbishop of Winchester. On his death-bed he requested to be buried where the water from the “eaves” would drop on him. One hundred years after, it was thought a poor place for him to have been buried in, and the clergy were going to move his bones when a tremendous storm burst forth, and continued for forty days. Others say it came from a primeval Pagan belief concerning the weather on some day about that time and since then the idea has clung to St. Swithin’s Day.
From then until now it has always been said that:
“St Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days will rain na mair”
On 4th July’ 1775 the American colonists declared themselves independent of Britain, and Americans still celebrate Independence Day on 4th July.
In France 14th July is Bastille Day, a public holiday celebrating the fall of the Bastille, a hated and feared prison fortress in Paris, in 1789.
20th July is one of the most important dates in new history books. On that day in 1969 a man stood on the moon for the first time. Astronaut Neil Armstrong. As he stepped from the lunar module he said: “That’s one small step for man — a giant leap for mankind.”
On long hot July days, enjoy wild swimming – look out for frogs having been just changed from tadpoles swimming about in the ponds. The wild flowers of Spring have entirely disappeared. Climbing plants festoon the hedges. The wild hop, the bryony, the large white convolvulus, and others, deck the bushes with varied beauty, and breathe the Summer’s sweetness. In the fields, the scarlet poppy, the blue-bottle, the marigold, and the dog-daisy, may be seen in abundance. On the roadsides and ditches, among beautiful ferns, may be seen the tall foxglove, the musk-thistle, the wild thyme, and hosts of others, which brighten the day.
If you were born in July, your lucky flowers are lillies and your lucky gemstome is the ruby.