My Garden by Philippa Thomas

June is the 6th month of the year to have the length of 30 days and June 21st, is the longest day of the year… Is summer not ‘here’, – wow, we certainly have an abundance, a burst of lush growth and vibrant colours…  Nevertheless, remember, this extra light and warmth also means weeds of all types will be romping about and pests are on the rampage…  Our soft young growth is literally a magnet to slugs and snails and aphids can attack a wide range of plants and can spread viruses as well as sucking sap… so, take your own necessary precautions to protect your plants.  …Remember, centipedes are not pests so they should be left alone, they actually help us in the garden, as they feed on small soil animals – they eat slugs and generally any damaged foliage, (that’s generally damaged by other creatures).

Before we say ‘Goodbye’ to our elegant Tulips, maybe it’s worth remembering, that this past late spring, we have seen some amazing new varieties, Super Star qualities, that last such a long long time, such as Burgandy, Ballerina, Negrita, Alladin and Bastagne Parrot, this latter has chocolate red flowers, some of these tulips are flouncy parrot tulips with the most super ruffled flowers.

Did you hear this Summer’s news?  Have you heard of Kalette, a cross between Kale and Brusssel sprouts…  There is also a new variety of apple called, The Forbidden Apple, bred by Lubera and then, we have an egg and chip plant.  This is an aubergine grafted onto a potato rootstock.  Firstly, a supply of large purple flowers and then, when their day is done, a late supply of new potatoes will be lurking underneath the surface…  How incredible.  …Finally, apparently, there is a new mock scented orange.  The colours of the leaves and flowers actually match.  Aren’t the flowers of the mock scented orange like bowls of clotted cream with the most heavenly scent… take a twiglet and put on your kitchen table or perhaps make a floral display on oasis for your family grave or whatever…  These flowers speak volumes.

Now that the ground has warmed up, you can sow seeds of hardy annuals directly into the ground. – All you need to do is prepare the soil with a hoe and make sure, it is weed free.  Sow thinly and allow plenty of space for seedlings to develop…  A patio can be transformed into something exceptional, a little paradise with containers, hanging baskets and window boxes.  …Growing your own flowers from seed opens up a whole world of possibilities as regards, ‘hard-to-get’ but interesting varieties that you can experiment with and use to make imaginative planting combinations.  …Here is a tantalising list of beauties to whet your appetite!  Stock, Antirrhinims, (there’s a lovely double), Calendulas, Marigolds, Osteopermums, Geraniums, also scented Geraniums, Cosmos, I’m trying a new seed ‘Cosmos Lemonade’, which ‘The Which Gardening Magazine’, sent me for seed trials.)  …Bergonias, Petunias, Baccopa, Diascias, Phlox, Sweet Peas, Impatiens, Pansies, Violas, Verbenas, Fuchsias, Nigella (Love-in-a Mist), Cornflowers, Dahlias, Zinnias and Nicotiana Sylvestri’s, variety ‘Only The Lonely’, a Giant among annuals – , Larkspur, adore them – honestly, the list is endless. If you are keen to have some exciting displays and a good summer holiday at the same time, maybe consider some succulents, some are wonderful architectural shapes, Rosettes, Spears etc.  They can be silver grey, reddish, copper etc., because of their native habitat, such colours are a defence against too much sun.  Succulents look better planted in shallower containers

Might Do, Maybe May Jobs.

Early June is a really good time to do The Chelsea Chop and cut back most stems by half, such as sedums, Heleniums and some Astrantias. This will produce a second flush.  Watch out for dry periods and give new plants a thorough soak so that the water penetrates the plant’s rootballs, properly.

  1. Lift and divide clumps of Snowdrops and Bluebells once the leaves have turned yellow.
  2. Try cleaning the residue on your secateurs with wire wool, Brillo or a metal brush.
  3. Check pots of cuttings regularly to see if they made roots and are ready to go into individual pots. A simple way that doesn’t disturb plants is to hold them in the air and look for any roots protruding from the draining holes.
  4. Pinching out the growing tips of young shoots will make the plant produce more stems and became a better shape with more blooms.
  5. Presently, Pelargoniums and Fuchsias root easily from flowering shoots.
  6. Dead-head and cut back oriental poppies after flowering, cutting them close to ground level will stimulate new foliage.
  7. If you like to be in your garden and simply don’t want to do any work in it – , why not consider planting one small, beautiful ornamental tree, such as Acer Brilltisimum and some ground cover plants: They really do beat the drought for years of easy maintenance and good colour.
  8. Ponds: To avoid blanket weed, put in some water plants that will grow to cover at least a third of the pond.
  9. I tend to use a very weak liquid organic seaweed feed, (especially, as we live here in Dalkey by the sea) then, likewise if I am foliar spraying, I use a much weaker similar solution.
  10. Keep bird baths topped up in warm weather.

Finally, to conserve water, water your soil rather than the plants. It’s a good idea to make ponds of 10″ deep around individual plants so that the water can really soak in.  This can last for 12 – 14 days, especially, if you’re going away on holidays.

“It was June and the world smelled of roses, the sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside”.   Maud Hart Lovelace.

“In June as many as a dozen species may, burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them”.   Aldo Leopold

“The air is like a butterfly with frail wings. The happy earth looks at the sky and sings.” Joyce Kilmer