Deadheading in particular is essential at this point in the summer - especially for annuals which naturally want to flower and set seed as early in the season as possible whereas my goal is to have them flowering all summer and delay setting seed until the first frosts. By dead-heading plants such as sweet peas, arctotsis, osteospermums, verbenas, cosmos and salvias their flowering season can be extended right through the summer and it is only when the days become shorter and nights cooler that their ability to flower diminishes. I'm racing around frantically with my Felcos before we leave deadheading everything in sight, though in the sure knowledge that after three weeks away most of this work will be in vain.
There are also some perennials which have now flowered and are starting to look very tired and scruffy. I sheared Geranium Rozanne and Geranium pratense "Mrs Kendal Clark" to the ground in June so that fresh foliage will grow and they are already showing fresh foliage. The bare ground they are leaving now should look lush and green again when I return at the end of the month.
Bearded Irises also need attention in July after flowering in May and June. Leaves need to be cut down to about a third of their full height in order for the sun to reach their rhizomes and give them a good bake. This is essential treatment if they are to flower well next year. During this time the irises will be making new root growth and maturing before becoming fully dormant in the fall. It is also a good time to lift and divide them, if they are not divided for years they become very congested. The old rhizomes can be discarded and the newer ones replanted with more space between them which will lead to better flowering in the future.
I also spent a few days pruning the azaleas on our front bank. They were planted with the house was first built in the 1930s and are now over 70 years old. Renewal pruning involved removing old stems from the base leaving the younger stems to form the new structure of the shrub - hopefully in a year or so these azaleas will be looking better than ever and flowering with gusto.