June in your garden
Flaming June is here at last and, boy oh boy, what a difference a day or two of wet weather and warm temperatures can make, once the rain has given the ground a good soaking. There's a real intensity of growth in the garden with absolutely everything going mad, including the weeds.
After one of the driest Aprils on record and a mostly dry May we have started the month off with less of a flame - more a damp Squibb, but none of us gardeners are complaining are we?
I am writing this article from my holiday home garden here in St Ives, Cornwall where the heady scents of floribunda roses, white, pink & red valerian, perennial daisies, blue campanulas, hardy mauve geraniums, palms and succulent aeoniums, with their bright yellow heads of tiny petals, are all bursting with colours of the seaside.
Flowers abound at head height tumbling over, and amongst, granite walls and intermingle with naturalistic, self seeded plants, wherever they can get a foothold, along secret pathways and in garden paving. A welcome sight and one that conjures up all my childhood memories of brushing past, and being told not to pick, the pin cushion pink tufts of Armeria Maritima, Sea Thrift, up on 'The Island'...... Can you tell I am in heaven?
However, being on holiday means that I am going back to probably rather a jungle of my own garden so if, like me, you have been away for a Half Term break (and another week added on for down time after the children, well they are all young adults now, are back at uni and work) here are.....
.....My Top Ten Tips for Your Garden in June
*Tie in sweet peas as they grow up supports and ensure that they have plenty of watering as they can run to seed quickly through lack of water. Pick them regularly to promote more flower growth throughout the season and give them a weekly dose of tomato feed.
*Prop up flower stems that are beginning to flop over pathways, especially if you are wanting to use them in cut flower displays. If you are using canes, tie something bright twine around the tops, or a wedge of florist's foam or use cane toppers. You don't want to poke your eye out when bending down to weed.
*Box hedging can be given a trim this month, but check birds are not nesting in higher hedges first and if so, leave until later in the summer.
*Flowering shrubs like Lilac, Philadelphus and Weigelia that bloom earlier in the season should be pruned to shape after flowering to give the new growth a chance to form next year's flowers.
*Loosely tie in new rose shoots that have grown this year on rambling and climbing roses as these will give flowers next year. This will keep the new stems protected from any damage.
*Tomatoes and chillies will benefit from a high potash liquid tomato fertiliser as soon as the fruits appear. Pinch out side shoots of cordon tomatoes and tie the main stems into supports as they grow to keep them from becoming top-heavy.
*Keep an eye on dahlias that are shooting from the ground or young plants you have planted out as these leaves are a favourite evening snack for slugs. You could be vigilant and go out each evening with a torch and remove the offenders or make a beer trap nearby to encourage them to the bar rather than the dinner table. If you are not organically minded then you may want to sprinkle slug pellets around the base of the plants.
*Gardeners are, I think, automatically nature lovers, so bear the hedgehog in mind as they are out of hibernation and may need a feed of cat/dog food. Their numbers have been shown to be declining rapidly so any help we can give them will be of benefit and is a good reason not to use slug pellets in the garden. They love to eat slugs so toxic slug pellets are not the best thing to cast around, especially if you know you have a hedgehog in the vicinity.
*If, like me, you sowed Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia earlier in the year and it has now flowered and is beginning to form beans, it may also be showing signs of black aphids on the tops. Remove the affected leaves and stems and pop them deep into the compost. The yields and vigour of your plant should not be affected.
*Ponds are positively busy with tadpoles, water life and water plants are growing at a rate of knots, so keep them in check if they are taking over the pond and keep the water level topped up using rain water from your water butt. Blanket weed is again making an appearance in my small wildlife pond so I use a small fishing net (you could use an old tea strainer) to skim over the surface to remove it.
Can't wait to see you there, but, in the meantime
Have fun and enjoy your garden