The title of our theme this month captures the prevailing mood of July. As you probably know, it is the opening song (a lullaby in fact) in George and Ira Gershwin’s 1935 jazz opera ‘Porgy and Bess’, a portrayal of the plight of African American residents in a 1930’s Charleston ghetto, where life was anything but easy! But as is so often the case, popular interpretation replaces the artist’s original intention and ‘Summertime’ is now an ode to laid-back easy living of the sort we associate with high summer.
That sense that one can go out for a country walk without raincoats and Wellingtons, that clothes can be hung on the line in the certainty that they will be dry when one gets home and, if you’ve got a convertible car, you can leave the top down. The garden is definitely the place to be now, for socialising, relaxing, eating, playing – really the garden becomes an outside room, so shouldn’t you take a look at the décor to make sure it’s up to scratch?
Our combo this month is sure to provide the backdrop you need for all your garden fun: buddleia to attract stunning butterflies, lavender to calm you and roses for classic beauty. Combine the three and have a plant-filled haven to retreat to whenever the mood takes you.
Wonderful, aromatic lavender is the perfect shrub for the summer garden. With a slightly exotic, yet at the same time homely feel, the fragrance of lavender comes out with the sun and is guaranteed to relax you.
Lavandula stoechas (French lavender) is a great performer, but may be a little tender if you live in a very frost-prone region. Lavandula angustifolia (also known as English lavender) has many varieties – look out for ‘Hidcote’ with its silvery grey leaves and dark purple flowers. Ideal in a full-sun position.
This shrub is a great favourite as it is easy to care for, has few special requirements and many species are irresistible to butterflies and beneficial insects. Buddleia davidii is a favourite with ‘Black Knight’ or ‘Pink Delight’ being great choices.
A full sun position is ideal, in fertile, well-drained soil. Buddleia responds very well to vigorous pruning. For most species, cut right back to a permanent framework in spring as this will ensure strong flowering in summer from new shoots.
The flower that needs no introduction, the rose comes in so many shapes and sizes that there is one for every situation and taste. Most modern varieties are resistant to many pests and diseases, making them easier to care for and enjoy. A couple of suggestions might be Rosa ‘Amber Queen’, a neat bush producing amber-yellow flowers or Rosa ‘Alister Stella Gray’ a climbing rose that produces yellow-white, scented flowers.