June is the perfect month for relaxing in your garden. The evenings are at their longest and lightest, and should be spent with a cold beer in hand and feet up, watching the bees and birds go about their business. All of my hard work in spring has paid off, and there is an abundance of lush growth and flowers to enjoy. The irises are done, the foxgloves are open, and soon the garden will be filled with new blooms and the scent of roses, lavender, stocks and phlox. It’s all very gratifying.
Naturally, I will still be working in the garden because a) I love it, and b) there are always little jobs to do to keep things ticking over nicely. Here are some things you could be doing this month:
Find A New Use For Something Old
Make a unique garden feature by re-purposing something old or broken. You can recycle all sorts of objects as planters – vintage jelly moulds, colanders or large tin cans work well. My son came home with holes in his wellies, so I have turned them into pots for the sunflowers he planted in May. They look cute and are keeping him interested in the progress of his seedlings. I’m growing tomatoes in an old recycling bin bag. And a couple of years ago, I made border edging out of upturned wine bottles. You could make a bird bath out of a large tray, a hook from an old trowel, or turn a teapot into a hanging bird feeder. Pinterest is full of ideas if you’re after some inspiration.
Buy A New Rose
To me, June means roses. Last autumn, I planted rosa ‘Hot Chocolate’, and it has just produced its first flower. It’s a stunning floribunda rose, with large, rusty, chocolate-red, neatly formed flowers. It looks beautiful combined with an orange-tinted acer and yellow-green sedum. I’ve planted a red pompon dahlia ‘Glow’ beside it, and am looking forward to seeing if they work together. I’m hoping I’ll make it to Peter Beale’s Rose Festival this weekend to choose a new rose that I’ll order bare-root for delivery in autumn. I like to add at least one new rose to the garden every year, and bare-root roses tend to take off better than potted roses planted in summer. There’s no better way to choose a new rose than to see it in the flesh and plunge your nose into the centre of the flower for a good sniff!
Visit A Charity Open Garden
Following our open garden last weekend, I’m keen to visit lots of other local open gardens, so I’ll be perusing my NGS yellow book for dates coming up soon. I’ll certainly be keen to buy plants and eat cake, all in a good cause! Do let me know if there are any gardens you would particularly recommend visiting. Special gardens that I’ve heard about, and am also keen to visit this summer, include:
- East Ruston Old Vicarage, north Norfolk
- Houghton Hall Walled Garden, near King’s Lynn
- Beth Chatto Gardens, Essex
Protect Your Crops
It is guaranteed that a blackbird will steal your first strawberry mere hours before you plan to pick it. I don’t mind sacrificing this first delight to the birds, but after that I ruthlessly protect my fruits with a piece of net laid over the raised bed, held down with half bricks or pegs. Currants are also starting to colour up this week, so if you plan to eat yours, you’d best keep the birds off them. A wood pigeon can very quickly decimate a currant bush, and then that’s it until next year. I’ve built a fruit cage over my soft fruit raised bed using net, bamboo canes and four cheap, but very clever, rubber cane connectors.
If the black fly have descended on to your broad bean plants, do not despair. Firstly, pinch out the tops of your plants, as it’s the tender new growth that they are after. Secondly, spray them once or twice a day (depending on how bad the infestation is) with a mild solution of washing up liquid. This will block up their breathing holes and suffocate them without contaminating your crops. But be careful not to spray any of the gorgeous ladybirds that are also valiantly battling these horrible aphids for you.
Plant A Pumpkin
In a moment of inspiration, or more likely because somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind I remember someone suggesting this to me some time ago, I have planted a pumpkin plant on the top of our full compost bin. I dumped a bag of shop-bought compost on the top and then put the plant in that. I’ve surrounded it with a ring of wood ash, in the hope that it will keep the slugs off, and it’s so far, so good. Pumpkins are very hungry plants, so my plant should relish the nutrient rich bin full of rotting plant matter once its roots get down into it. I’m also assuming that the heat that the decay process generates in the heap will also promote more growth. It’s a bit of an experiment, so I’ll keep you updated. Let me know if you’re trying anything similar.
That’s it from me. I do hope there will be a window of nice weather, so I can go out and enjoy my garden (or someone else’s), at some point this weekend. xx