MY GARDEN by Philippa Thomas

June is almost everybody’s favourite month in the garden. The longest days of the year and our peak of annual growth occur this month.  Would you not agree, our days have become carelessly long.  Everywhere seems to be a lush of green that as yet, has not lost its spring sheen.  Isn’t it like as if some of our plants are almost racing their flowering stems upwards into the sunshine.  Do you ever feel, it’s either a feast or a famine in your garden.  One day all feels fresh, next day, all seems dried out … in a different light.

“Even gardeners who have been too busy to garden can draw some comfort from the fact that nature will take over this month and every inch will be brimming with flower. Roses a go-go, herbaceous borders in full song, shrubs puffed up like peacocks and sadly, weeds slyly self seeding.  Enjoy it all but remember, We still have work to do!                                           Words by: James Alexander-Sinclair

Some gardeners think the key to success in a small garden is to think Big, whether with bold statements, zingy window boxes or a simple eye-catching statement plant.  Then, some of us are torn between trying to protect nature then we resent it, ‘doing its own thing’, in certain circumstances as some climbers, ramblers, etc can sprawl into their own unlimited freedom of a canopy and in doing so, can sometimes, look so amazingly excellent.  Growing climbers up boundaries can make a garden feel larger by deceiving the eye through obscuring where it ends, then of course old brick walls can be such a valuable feature in themselves.

Your Plants Are Your Soil and their roots soak up its soluble nutrients. Soil contains three main nutrients that are essential for plant health.

  1. Nitrogen, for leaves and general vigour.
  2. Potash, for flowers and fruit.
  3. Phosphorus, for strong roots.

To Bee or Not to Bee

A garden busy with wildlife will provide us with hours of enjoyment and moments of wonderment. By gardening organically and encouraging wildlife to our gardens, we’ll be making life easier for ourselves.  So maybe, throw away pesticides (obviously with thought).  They can kill both friend and foe.  Ladybirds for example, will feast on the aphid population while hedgehogs, frogs, toads and certain birds like nothing better than a dish of slugs and snails.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are especially active, two to three hours after sunset, they are also active after rain or during damp weather. Slugs are particularly partial to lettuce, however, it seems they are less fond of varieties with the colour red in their leaf, so, hopefully, ‘these’ should be more trouble free.  Snails, on the other hand, don’t like coffee grounds, broken egg shells, pine needles, old oak leaves, dry straw, sawdust, shredded bark, bark chips, orange peel or cotton wool.  I like best of all and the most effective for me, horticultural grit, as snails and slugs seem to hate sliding and sliming over it’s rough texture.

Moths

As moths fly at night, it’s a good idea to grow night scented plants, such as Honeysuckle, Night scented stock, Nicotianas, etc. Pale flowers are easy for moths to see in the dark, alerting them to the source of nectar.  Single flowered Chrysanthemums make the perfect landing pad for shorter-tongued moths.

Might do, Maybe June Jobs

Really, I think it is better to give plants a good soak at least once a week rather than a light sprinkle everyday as a good soak will do a better job of thoroughly wetting the whole root ball.

Maybe, introduce our Dalkey children to the idea of growing some of their own food. Radishes, Water Cress and Alfalfa come up so quickly. Again, what a great idea to give our children their own child sized garden tools.  You could have so much fun allowing your children to paint funny faces on plant pots.…… then they could even do a family of pots, using different sized, graduating pots.

  1. All seeds start off with baby leaves or seed leaves, also know as cotyledons, these do not resemble the plants own distinctive adult leaves, which will be next to appear, so when some ordinary little leaves appear above the soil, don’t immediately assume they are weeds, wait to see their second leaves, before yanking them out.
  2. When buying plants at the garden centre, look out for any that are large and have filled their pots. When you get them home, you may be able to divide them before planting them out and get two or more plants for the price of one.
  3. How on earth, do we paint a wall that is smothered in our favourite climber? Grow the plant on a moveable trellis!  Instead of fixing in place with screws, just hang it on suitable hooks instead.  When it comes to painting, carefully lift off the whole thing, trellis and climber and lay on the ground and cover with an old sheet.  When, you’re finished painting, just hang it back into position.
  4. If you find flowers in pots and other containers tend to lean towards the light, regularly turn, so that all sides have access to sunlight.
  5. Cuttings of Fuschia, Hydrangeas, Oleander, Marguerites, Lantana etc, all now grow from soft new growth.
  6. You can give new terracotta pots more character by encouraging moss and lichens to grow on them thus ageing them artificially:                                                     (i) Soak the pot in water. (ii)  Paint the outside with natural yogurt. (iii) Leave your pot in a damp shady place and let nature do the rest and it will, in time.
  7. Weeds can secretly grow until they catch your eye as enormous. Hopefully, catch them as weedlings before they self seed for a new generation of weeds.
  8. Dogs ‘No. 2s’, call it what you like, are not suitable for a compost heap as they may carry a roundworm parasite that can cause toxocariasis in people. This may remain for up to 4 years even when the compost seems to have rotted down completely.  Cat litter too, can harbour bacteria and internal parasites.
  9. It’s better not to use mesh fruit and vegetable bags as holders for bird food as birds can get their feet caught in the mesh.
  10. Maybe, give an empty tin can a rustic makeover by decorating it with small twigs. Simply cut a few sticks/twigs to length, glue them to the can and finish off with a simple twine bow; remember to punch a few drainage holes in the bottom of the can (see picture).
  11. Most times, evergreen grasses such as Stipa, need nothing more than a quick comb through with your hands to remove old leaves and to make space for the new ones. If your plant is still looking untidy, then perhaps, give it a hair cut.

“I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a row of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green from mosses from and old manse”       By Nathaniel Hawthorne