During April, May, and June, we were busy with spring cleanup, transplanting and planting.The vegetable garden is in and everything seems to be growing exceptionally well this year. We have had plenty of rain and when the sun came out, it was warm and inviting.The end of June gave us our first heat wave of the season; three days of temperatures in the nineties with high humidity.This hot, sticky weather came to an abrupt end with two to five severe thunderstorms. I say two to five because they were hit and miss. Some areas got six inches of rain and other areas only a half inch.That’s how thunderstorms work during the heat of summer.
July is a pruning time of the year. Most shrubs and trees have finished flowering by now so it’s time for a cut. I spend July pruning trees, shrubs, and perennials to create a visually pleasing landscape. Overgrown shrubs, especially along the foundation, can be drastically pruned back this time of year to bring new vigor to the plant. If you gradually prune an overgrown shrub several times in a season, you can slowly shape it into good form. It may take a few years to accomplish this, but it’s worth the effort.
In July, the lawn has finally slowed down because it’s getting drier and hotter. Lawns prefer moist, cool weather. During the heat of the summer, many broad-leaf plants will colonize in our lawn.It’s this time of year that the clover becomes more pronounced. I enjoy clover. It tolerates dry conditions, produces a flower that bees use to make honey, and fixes nitrogen from the air and releases it into the soil. Violets are another broadleaf I welcome into my lawn. When they flower in June, it gives some welcome color to the boring blades of green.
It’s time to raise the height of cut on the lawn. Four to five inches is a comfortable height during the dry summer. The lawn is less likely to burn if mowed higher. Also, we will not need to water at this height. Lawns fade for a number of reasons; excessive heat, dry conditions, soil compaction and shade are the top reasons lawns fail. In autumn, before a good rain is expected, over-seed the lawn with a mix of rye, fescue, and bluegrass. This blend is more adapted to our climate conditions.
July is the Japanese Beetle hatch. Be ready when these beetles emerge. They are hungry and need to be controlled. July is aphids, mites, adelgid, mealy bugs, and powdery mildew. Most bugs can be controlled by mechanical methods, oil spray or soap application. Powdery mildew and many fungus problems can be treated by pruning to allow more air flow around and through the plant. Also, baking soda mixed with water makes an effective spray for powdery mildew and a cotton swab dipped in alcohol can take care of small areas of mealy bugs.
July is the flowering linden tree (or basswood). The linden tree flowers in July and the small, white flowers are full of nectar...so much nectar that the tree will drip of nectar at times. Early Native Americans used basswood to build dugout canoes and make cups, bowls, and other utensils The linden is a good street tree as well as a yard specimen or hedge row tree.
July is in mid-summer form and features flowers such as native honeysuckle, butterfly weed, swamp milkweed, jewel weed, black-eyed Susan, heliopsis, bee balm, coreopsis, blue chicory, clethra, hypericum, potentilla, helenium, and phlox.
July can be a refreshing swim in Green Mountain Lake, taking in a softball game at Murrow Park on a balmy evening, a round of golf on Dutcher at sunset, a Sunday morning hike on the Appalachian Trail (at the boardwalk due west of the Metro North train stop) to check out the beaver hut. Getting out in the yard or nearby meadow to pick a wild flower bouquet is a simple way to enjoy what July has to offer. Stay cool.
Pete and the Natives