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Huge vibrant pink blooms on one variety and even bigger frilly white blooms on the “Duchess du Nemours”.

Your garden in July

Tom Nicholas takes us through lawn care, deadheading, watering, weeding and hedge trimming in a bid to get our gardens looking spectacular this month
Me My Spade and I, based in Oxfordshire and provide specialist horticultural garden services throughout the Home Counties and London.

"The bees have arrived en-mass"

As I sit here writing on a balcony overlooking Dartmouth harbour, a picturesque fishing village in Devon, I am quite taken back with how gorgeous it is.


Regardless of my lovely view, I can’t help but yearn to get back to the stunning countryside I live in and get back to my gardens. I was also looking forward to The Blenheim Palace Flower Show to see how it compares to Chelsea.

It seems that in the short five days I was away that the sun had its spells in between the rain storms; weather like this is quite unusual for this time of year. It has almost felt like a warm April not June and with this the plants have gone wild! The love of heat and water has brought the flowers out in spades!

Upon my return, I walked back into my own garden where the lawn looks like a meadow and the peonies have burst into bloom looking like no other plant in the garden, (they really are stunning). Huge vibrant pink blooms on one variety and even bigger frilly white blooms on the “Duchess du Nemours”. I excitedly shouted to the boss (my other half ) to come and look. Over the years we have been together, my passion and enthusiasm has rubbed off and she instantly shared the delight in seeing such gorgeous plants.

One thing I always seem to forget about the Duchess is the fragrance. There aren’t many plants in the garden that can rival the good old fashioned rose but Peony “Duchess du Nemours” is right up there in a close second place! Have a look for it when you are next at your local garden centre.

With my garden looking like it did, after only five days away, it took me all of Sunday to tidy up so I was thinking of my clients gardens and how they may have reacted to the weather whilst I was away. As ever, the boys have done a sterling job with the gardens in my absence and all were looking fabulous on my return. You can really see the plants have enjoyed the weather conditions; it has been a delight to walk round with my clients and enjoy the array of colour, shapes and fragrances.

With that, I am even more excited to say that the bees have arrived en-mass, the sheer joy I have seeing the bees enjoying different floral displays and acting almost drunk from the abundance of nectar. So drunk one of the blighters stung me... and after all I’ve done for them!

Lawn Care

A subject I am sure you are used to hearing me talk about by now. A lot of people I talk to cut their lawn each week thinking this is enough to keep the lawn looking neat and tidy. Although you are keeping the grass short, you still need to take a light rake over the lawn which will help keep the thatch at a minimum and weeds at bay. Dig out any larger weeds that may be showing through and if possible, apply a light summer feed, this will keep the lawn green and lush.


There will be lots of deadheading to be done at the moment to keep plants looking their very best. Make sure you dead head the flowers that have gone over, this will stop the plant from sending energy to the flower head and re-route the energy to the new flowers about to come through.


By this I don’t mean water plants. Although some pots will be in need of water as I am sure you are well aware of and probably doing daily, (by the way a seaweed extract to feed the pots will also be good right now) make the most of the water available now. We are in the middle of a wet period, make hay while the sun shines and invest in a water butt. Collect water from drain pipes, natural water is a lot healthier for the plants and is less of a drain on the resources we have.


Yes, gardens need weeding but if you have followed my advice through the year, you will be able to weed through the flower beds relatively quickly. I managed to go through my garden on Sunday in an hour simply because I gave the soil a deep dig in the spring, added compost and heavily weeded at the right time. By doing that, it means I can now get through the flower beds in my garden, along with clients gardens with extreme ease, showing the hard work at the start of the year certainly pays off.

Hedge trimming

Some of your large shrubs or hedge rows will now be in need of a tidying. Their large growth spurt due to the wet weather at the start of June has probably made them look a bit bedraggled! Now is the time to tidy! Large shrubs like Laurel, Elaeagnus or Berberis will need a summer tidy, with this more tender shrubs like Buxus Sempervirvens will need to be pruned. Where possible please use sharp sheers and DO NOT CUT IN FULL SUN, if you do, it will scorch the leaves which will leave the plant not looking very nice at the time of year you want it to look its best.

Blenheim Palace Flower Show

It is one for the plants man, nothing in the way of show gardens for you to steal ideas from like Chelsea, it is a very different garden show.

Almost like a larger than life village fete or perhaps something from the ‘Darlings buds of May’. It is interesting, you can definitely take away some great ideas for your gardens, there are plants to buy galore and tools to help you dig or hold plants up.

For garden enthusiasts it is a must visit with the highest recommendation from myself. From here I would love to see the show progress towards a Chelseaesq quality of garden design and show gardens and then we would have everything.

I met the Oxfordshire Bee Keepers Association at the show and they are very kindly letting me take part in a bee keeping demonstration, pictures to follow and a full report, hopefully no more bee stings this month.



Me My Spade and I, based in Oxfordshire and provide specialist horticultural garden services throughout the Home Counties and London. From residential houses to commercial sites which includes full garden design, plant selection, landscaping and installation.



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