This Month in the Garden – June 2015

TMITG_ds1June is the month for enjoying gardens at their best, your own and other people’s. There is still plenty of work to be done but make time too for being as well as doing. Savour the garden with all your senses; above all by looking but also by listening, smelling and touching. Run different grasses and leaves through your fingers and notice the differences between them. The grass stipa tennuissima is worth growing just for the feel of it.

Topiary ( trimming hedges and shrubs into fancy shapes) is a specialist subject but it’s fun to have a go. Box is the most popular material but there are plenty of other shrubs and small trims that can be creatively shaped. There are special one -handed topiary shears and electric trimmers but I find it easiest to use ordinary shears. For rounded shapes it is most effective to use the shears upside down. Box should be cut at this time of year to give new shoots time to harden off before frosts begin again.  Ordinary hedges also need cutting and most of them more than once a year.  Many gardens have their boundaries marked by wooden fences but these are generally stark and featureless and emphasise the straight and rectangular shape of the garden.  Shrubs planted along the fence at the back of borders can do a lot to reduce this effect and the ideal is that you can’t see where the boundaries are.

While you enjoy the garden now continue to think about ways in which it can be improved and one way is to have more of what you have got already. Some plants do this for you by self- seeding, most clumps of perennials can be divided in spring and plants with strong or woody stems can be multiplied with cuttings. Self –seeders can be a nuisance  and, where you don’t want them, cut off the flower heads before they seed (pull up forget-me –nots). Where you do want them, for perennials collect the seed and scatter it or sow in seed trays or a seed bed. Pull up annual plants when they have flowered and shake them over the desired area.  Cuttings of soft plants like pinks, geraniums, dahlias and perennial wallflowers are quite easy to do. Cut off a few inches of non-flowering shoot just below a leaf joint, remove the lower leaves to leave a planting stem and put several cuttings into a pot of potting compost. Water the pot, cover it with a plastic bag and put it  in  a greenhouse or cold frame or outside in a shady place. Shake moisture off the inside of the bag fairly frequently. When there are signs of new growth, rooting will have taken place and you can take the bag off. Some gardeners recommend dipping the cut end of the shoot in hormone rooting powder before planting but this doesn’t seem to make much difference.

There is still time to do some more sowing. In the vegetable garden, continue successional sowing of lettuce until July, radish, spring onion and a further sowing of carrot. For the flower border, sow plants to flower next year such as foxglove , wallflowers and sweet william and perennials of all sorts, especially aquilegia and aubretia.

There is always general tidying and maintenance to be done. With a reasonable amount of rain,  lawns will need frequent cutting and edging  and the weeds will keep growing as well as the plants you want. Continue pest control of aphids, slugs and snails.  Roses should be at their best and the show will last longer if you keep up with dead-heading.  Regular attention to plants in containers and hanging baskets  will always pay off and that too means frequent dead-heading and daily watering  plus an application of liquid fertiliser every ten days or so.

Jeremy Arthern

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