What´s looking good in July

Rhododendrons have nearly finished by now but there is one real glory in R. Polar Bear with its pure white, very scented, big trusses of lily-like flowers. It is a strong grower, eventually forming a small, umbrella-shaped tree with a good trunk. It does need moisture and shade to prevent it cooking at this time of year, but if you can afford the space it is a real treat.

Another big evergreen with a superb scent is Magnolia grandiflora. Starting now, it will produce enormous individual white flowers until the frost. Often grown against walls, the flowers are lovely from upstairs windows. However, it is hardy in SE England and can be grown effectively as a free-standing tree. Goliath has rounded leaves, Exmouth´s are longer and Edith Brogue has a reputation as the hardiest.

Our hydrangeas start to flower now. Hydrangea Haven has been established as the obvious way of bringing summer colour into rhododendron beds and woodland gardens but there is a hydrangea for any garden, The H. serrata varieties are the most compact and ideal for small gardens and tubs. Examples are Preziosa, which is pink, aging to purple-red and Tiara, pale blue and early-flowering. More about Hydrangeas in theAugust section.

Few plants flower all summer. Fuchsias are an exception and F. magellanica Tricolor is quite outstanding as it is hardy and a very effective foliage plant, with silvery green leaves with cream and pink tinges, as well as long, thin flowers of red and purple. Ideal planted with Lacecap hydrangeas, silver-leaved plants like artemesias and also Verbena bonariense.