Strawberries and cream?

Many of us are proud of our gardens in June.  Fresh and fecund with roses, early clematis, lupins and foxgloves - they're a sight to behold.  Pinks, blues, purples and whites they create a picture that could sit comfortably in any of the glossy gardening magazines.  All that mulching, winter reading, pouring through catalogues, and the turning of compost heaps has paid off.  We are good gardeners.  No!  We are great gardeners!  Let’s have a summer party and open the garden for all to admire. 

And then comes July.  The early summer performers are over, their foliage starts to look scruffy and their flower stems collapse onto neighbouring plants.  Cancel the Pimms.  Cancel the strawberries and cream.  We’re not good gardeners after all. 

We’ve all experienced the midsummer crash.  A garden once vibrant now looking dull and hungover, but there are ways to avoid the lull.  Early geraniums, lupins, delphiniums, and oriental poppies can all be cut to the ground after flowering.  New growth will follow erupting into a neat dome of fresh foliage and quite often a second flush of flowers.  Roses can be deadheaded, the faded blooms nipped off with secateurs just above the nearest leaf.  Foxgloves, their flowers now over can be completely removed or their tired flower spikes cut off resulting in a second bout of shorter but no less beautiful blooms.
Now it’s the turn of those hardy annuals that you've been rearing with loving care.  They can be planted out where new space has been created securing the future of the garden up until the first frosts.  Maybe then, we can once again reassess our horticultural ambitions.