The bees and other pollinating insects are also benefiting from the fine weather and the proliferation of dry flowers.
Three other plants that benefit from these long hours of sunshine and high temperatures each representing a different growth habit are Salvia verticillata ssp. verticillata a sturdy perennial. Eryingium giganteum a biennial or short lived perennial and an annual, the state flower of California, the sunshine state.
Washing the garden
Sun wilt causes consternation when, on a warm day, leafy herbaceous stems flop. During the evening as the temperature drops the turgidity of the stems returns. The attached image shows sun wilt in Ligularia fischeri, a large leaved herbaceous perennial, at 3.30pm on Saturday 6th July. A day when the sun shone almost continually. The second image was taken the following morning at 9.00am (Sunday 7th July). No water was given to the plant overnight. On both days we recorded a maximum temperature of 24°C.
If irrigation is required then water sparingly and direct the water to the root zone. Overwatering often results in run off with water flowing into the gutter and then draining away.
If available, use stored water from a water butt rather than mains water. Watering cans are better than standing with a hose at full blast washing the plants and lawn when irrigation is not required. Where hoses are used, direct the water through a mist nozzle or irrigation head with a fine droplet size. The larger the droplet size the more soil splash occurs. Move sprinklers systematically covering the whole border before run off results in streams along paths.
Good cultivation techniques and thought in plant selection should negate the need to irrigate. There is an opportunity in spring to help the moisture content of the soil by topdressing with organic matter.
Ideally water in the evening allowing the soil to retain this moisture rather than evaporate under the glare of the sun. Where possible save precious water for food crop production.
The first square flower!
Tomato breeders eat your heart out; a naturally occurring square flower.
Philadelphus schrenkii a native to Eastern and Northern Asia is flowering profusely in the Biodiversity Garden.
Vigorous deciduous shrubs, the flowers, with a nutty fragrance, are carried in racemes developing on short shoots from the previous season’s wood. Naturally the four petalled flowers hang down in bell formation. As the flowers age these petals splay open to a flat plane giving the impression of a square. Planted as a group in the garden these, once established, will rapidly reach two metres in height and spread.
As observed during July 2012
Red thread on a green carpet
This wet summer has given us lush growth; it has also given ideal climatic conditions for the invasion of Red Thread, Laetisaria fuciformis , a fungal disease of turf that is more prevalent in wet summers.
At an early stage of development the leaf blade of the grass turns red, patches of grass will then brown off.
There is an increased risk of infection on lawns of low vigour where a nitrogen shortage is evident. For a quick fix an application of Sulphate of Ammonia is one solution to the problem. However we are rather late in the season to go down this path. Applications of excessive nitrogen are never to be recommended and at this stage in the growing season may encourage soft growth which is poor practice for the lead into autumn where a denser sward is ideal.
Scarify and consider drainage of surface water as more permanent solutions. However even with no treatment the grass will recover and lawns will grow together as our summer dries out. Grass cuttings and debris from scarifying must be composted correctly or the fungal spores may remain viable for another cycle of infection.
Light up a dark corner
is flowering on the lower edge of the Chinese hillside. The large panicles of brilliant white flowers are setting off the canopy under which it grows.
A mixture of the sterile and fertile flowers makes up the terminal floral cluster. The sterile flowers each have four pure white sepals these are on the outer edge surrounding the smaller fertile flowers.
A deciduous shrub reaching five metres within its native distribution of northern and western China. Found on mountain slopes at 2400 – 3400m. The leaves are distinctively veined and are attached to the shoot with a purple leaf stalk.
Ground cover potential
Tight growing and compact this Ophiopogon intermedius
with its linear grass like foliage is a good
ground cover plant with high drought tolerance. Once planted it will take
several seasons to settle and establish. Through good cultivation the clumps
will fuse together providing an impenetrable barrier to other vegetation
seeking to colonise the area. Fresh new growth shoots up vertically, the plant
splits easily so a good gardener will rapidly increase the size of the
With a wide distribution through the Himalayas to Indochina this species colonises forest margins. It
produces plentiful flower spikes with pearly white buds that open to a clear
Rainfall facts from Bruce who records the weather at RBGE: The total rainfall for June 2012 was 142.8mm. This is almost
twice last year’s 76.6mm.For June 2010 we received 41.5mm and for June 2009, 32.1mm.You have to go back as far as 1997 to find an equivalent
rainfall of 148.5mm. Interestingly that very wet June was preceded by the very dry June (only 13mm) of 1996.
Bracts not petals
has a wide range through SW China and the Himalayas.
This evergreen, or in very cold winters semi evergreen, is found at lower
elevations (around 2300m) on the edge of mixed woodland. Planted at the western
edge of the Chinese hillside, here at RBGE, is a mature specimen, covered in
flower. Here it displays a showy presence of an unusual nature.
Four petal like bracts, pointed, creamy white in colour,
surround the true flowers. These insignificant individuals are tightly packed
in a raised dome and later are followed by red fruit in season.
For previous years' highlights during this month, see the July Garden Highlights Archive page.