This Month in the Garden – June 2017


For many people June is the highlight of the gardening year. Maintaining a succession of colour throughout the year is one of the great challenges for the ornamental gardener but most of us can  manage a good display in June. It is a great time for enjoying your own garden and it is a wonderful time for visiting other gardens. One of the loveliest within reasonable distance of Bedford is Coton Manor at Coton, Northamptonshire. It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 12.00 to 5.30, postcode NN6 8RQ and it has a good restaurant and nursery for plant sales. June is the best time for seeing roses and Coton Manor has plenty of them.

I hope you will have time and good weather to sit in your garden and enjoy it but there is still plenty of work to be done. Keeping your roses at their best will be a part of that. Once flowering starts keep dead-heading. Watch out for aphids and control them either by picking them off by hand or with a spray. They will appreciate a summer dressing of rose fertiliser and they need plenty of water, especially in what seems set to be a pretty dry year.  Some roses are prone to mildew. Spraying with a fungicide gives some control but regular watering is the best thing to stop it getting a hold.

We tend to think of pruning as a winter or early spring task but the best time to prune shrubs that flower in late spring and early summer is immediately after flowering, either by cutting back flowered branches or taking up to a third of the bush back to ground level (cutting out the oldest stems) Forsythia is probably the best known example.

One of the problems for a gardener, and one which may require a certain hardness of heart, is when you have too much of a good thing. There are many plants which, although lovely to look at, can easily get out of control. That can happen in a number of ways but during the summer there is a particular threat from self seeders. I have suffered particularly from aquilegia and love-in-the-mist. A couple of years ago I had a wonderful show of aquilegia but the next year I found that several of my herbaceous perennials had disappeared and there were aquilegia plants everywhere. I have now been fairly drastic in clearing them out and there is more room for other things. The same was true of love-in-the-mist seedlings and I have got rid of them all except for a couple of clumps. The moral is to enjoy them and then cut off most of the seed heads before they reach maturity.  Golden rod will need to be treated in the same way later in the year, as will cow parsley if you have got it in a wild area.  Another removal job which may be needed is where plants have started to grow over the lawn. Once again, that can look attractive, but the overspill will kill the grass and leave you with dead patches which will show at other times of the year. This can be overcome by having a crazy paving or gravelled strip between the lawn and the flower bed but most of us don’t want to go to those lengths.

Most of your vegetable sowing will have been done by now, except for successional salad crops and perhaps brassicas for next year, but things will require maintenance. Keeping the weeds down is the main job and hoeing when the weeds are still seedlings is always the best and quickest way. Tomato plants need their side shoots nipping out (unless they are a bush variety) and they need constant vigilance and keen observation to defeat their determination to produce an unwanted flowering stem when you aren’t looking. Look out for the new growth at the junction of a leaf and the main stem and nip it out when small.  Tomato plants are like courgettes in this respect as the latter will turn a culinary sized courgette into a marrow seemingly overnight if you aren’t careful.

As I write this we have had a bit of rain after the long dry spell but a lot more is needed so don’t neglect watering,  giving particular attention to newly planted trees and shrubs. Use water from butts wherever possible and put the water where it is doing some good rather than indiscriminately. Anglian water have called for restraint but they don’t think a hosepipe ban will be necessary.

Jeremy Arthern

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