Gardening: Make sure your plants are hydrated

July’s a great time to enjoy your garden – the weather is normally good and the best of your flowers will be in bloom.

It’s also the start of the holiday season when we tend to leave our gardens to fend for themselves a bit. But a little thought before you go away and some tender loving care when you return will ensure that all your hard gardening work doesn’t go to waste.

Water carefully during the hot summer months to ensure your garden doesn’t suffer from dehydration. Conserve water and help plants by moving pots into the shade, water the area directly above the roots and use water-retaining gel in the soil. When possible, water in the evenings so it has time to soak in overnight and use grey water (from your bath or washing up) whenever you can. If you are going on holiday then think about a simple self-watering system. Make a few holes in the lid of a plastic water bottle, cut off the bottom of the bottle, turn upside down into the plant compost and then fill with water.

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Entertaining outside comes into its own in July and if you haven’t the space or time to grow your own salad vegetables, then think about a small herb garden or container herb garden. With just one £50 National Garden Gift Voucher you can create a culinary patch that will look good and taste even better. Most common herbs like sunny parts of the garden and are at their best now. Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and chives are happy in borders or pots, although keep mint in a contained environment as it likes to spread out.

If cut flowers are more your thing then try the splendour and vibrancy of the dahlia. They flower from July through to the first frosts in the autumn and range from dwarf bedding varieties to giant flower heads. They can be used as bedding plants and border plants and can be added to a mixed border alongside herbaceous perennials like Phlox, Aster and Sedum. Dahlias thrive in any well drained soil and like plenty of sunlight but will need winter protection. They regularly feature at horticultural society shows due to their late summer flowering.

• Provided by National Garden Gift Vouchers