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Your garden in July

Posted on 2nd July 2013

As I take a break from the heat of the mid day sun perched under the shade of a Banyan tree, I am staggered by its beauty and the clever way it has adapted to colonising and ‘getting around’. The large structures which develop from the underside of the 20 foot high branches head south and take root into the dry dusty soil as they hit the ground. With a record high temperature of 100 (f) and only 30 inches of water per year these are pretty hostile conditions – you may have noticed, I’m not in the UK!

An 11 hour flight will transport you Key West, Florida where the views are simply breath-taking and although some locals claim you can almost see Cuba (at a mere 90 miles out to sea?) I found some of the best views had no distance at all.  For me the most stunning were the small, intimate courtyards created to the front and rear sides of the colonial houses. These beautiful little oases in the town provide not only a welcoming entrance, but also a cool shady place, where the several layers of plants seem at home.

Although none of them indigenous to the area (due to the lack of soil on the island) they grow happily together and have done for years – mainly thanks to the daily irrigation! The plants are there for one reason only, to provide much needed shade from the sun.  The plant life is diverse due to this being the only frost free place in the USA and to me, looks like a scene from my local garden centres houseplant department.  Ficus trees and Coconut palms provide shade for less sun loving ferns. All tropical and all enjoying the high humidity (so that’s why the tips of my parlour palm always go brown!

As I sit in the garden located at the rear of the oldest house on the island a small lizard drinks from what’s left of a puddle, created by the irrigation system of course. Jamaican style music plays in the background, its origin a local bar I presume, disturbed only by the intermittent and even louder ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ thanks to the resident cockerel. Set free many yeas ago as a result of illegal cock fighting, these chirpy chaps roam free here, having found it easy to become native and I can see why.

If you’re not planning on going away this year, here are some jobs to do in your own garden this month:

Feed lawns

Place conservatory plants outside now that it is warm

Deadhead bedding plants and repeat-flowering perennials, to ensure continuous flowering

Pick courgettes before they become marrows

Treat apple scab

Clear algae, blanket weeds and debris from ponds, and keep them topped up

Have a great gardening month

Lee