This Month in the Garden  – June 2023

What a fabulous month when everything in the garden is blossoming and burgeoning and especially with all the rain.  Such a delight to be out and about savouring the beauty and wonder of nature.  I have been visiting numerous gardens in Biddenham and elsewhere during May.  Each one so different but delightful in its own way and with the owners so enthusiastic and proud to show off their efforts, highlight their challenges and bemoan their disasters.  May was the month of the tulip.  Gardens everywhere were show casing them in abundance, as in my own garden.  And, like me, have you been swept away by the beautiful displayed on The Embankment in Bedford.  The Parks Department of Bedford Borough Council deserve high praise for putting on such a wonderful display each year …

Further afield I was able to visit a lovely community garden in Wiltshire a few weeks ago.  The area is surrounded by flats, not high rise, but the 350 residents have no balconies or outside space for relaxing.  However, in 2014 a few of them obtained permission to create a wildlife garden on a piece of neglected ground by the side of the flats.  The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust supplied some pre-cut planks of wood which were used to assemble raised planting beds.  A nearby 500 year old oak tree was being pruned and the contractors gave them the resulting wood chips to provide an area for seating.  One of the branches from the tree was used to make a sign for the garden and so it went on with other local companies providing wood for making picnic benches, including small ones for children.  There are bird tables and nest boxes and now a small workshop where people can go to make things for the garden.  I had a long chat with one of the residents who was making a bird box.  He told me that the garden is now affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society and it is registered with local animal rescue charities and is a release area for hedgehogs.  A fenced pond has been created to encourage yet more wildlife and there has been a marked increase in bird and other animal activity.  Vegetables, fruit and salad crops are grown with the produce free to anyone in the local community.  Pre-school and school groups visit regularly and anyone in the local area can come and work in the garden or the workshop or just sit and relax and meet friends and neighbours.  I sat down with a group of ladies who live in the flats and who had brought their flasks and sandwiches and were sitting at one of the picnic tables knitting – an outdoor activity which, for them, happens on a regular basis.  It is such an impressive, part wildlife and part cultivated, community space.  No wonder, when the RHS judges visited in 2021 and 2022 each time the garden was awarded the top “Level 5 Outstanding” and so well deserved.  On Bank Holiday Monday, following the Coronation, as I am writing this it is the day of the Big Help Out – raising awareness of the opportunities for volunteering across the UK – how good that these volunteers have helped out and made such a difference to their community in Chippenham.

So back to my own garden where the tulips are fading and the alliums are taking their place as the stars.  Rhododendrons and azaleas are bursting forth.  Each year a bright orange azalea shines out in my front garden – a reminder of Peter and Pat, neighbours from our previous house who bought it for us when we moved here 41 years ago – gardens are for memories.  The grass is long. May was certainly no mow – simply because grass seed had been spread to fill in the bare patches as a result of last summer’s hot dry spell.  Weeds are in abundance but from a distance they merge with the other plants and provide a lush carpet – good for me and for the many wildlife visitors.  The stinging nettles near my compost heap are providing food for butterfly caterpillars.  Blue tits are nesting in the nest box, blackbirds collect mud from the bog garden at the edge of the pond before flying to my neighbours hedge where they are building a nest and I was delighted recently by a pair of green finches in the gleditsia tree – I haven’t had green finches in my garden for many years.  When I moved one of my wheelie bins this week there were 12 Midwife toads underneath with 3 of the males carrying eggs on their back.  We are so privileged to have them in Biddenham.

In terms of jobs pricking out has been completed and my tomatoes and cosmos are now enjoying more freedom.  In a couple of weeks I will be pinching out the tips of the cosmos to provide a more bushy plant.  June is the month when hanging baskets and planters can safely be taken outside.  My hanging baskets have been in the plant house with the door open day and night for a couple of weeks and so will be ready to venture outside during the first week in June.  Heaps to do in the garden in June but do remember to sit down sometimes and enjoy the results of all your hard work …
Linda Truscott

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