June is the best month for gardens. Many gardens are at their most colourful and the long evenings give more time to enjoy them. A lot of the hard work has been done and there should be time to appreciate your efforts as well as continuing to keep up with things. I am hoping that it will, at last, be warm enough to spend some time sitting in the garden as well as working in it. So far we haven’t noticed the hosepipe ban but we still need to be prepared to do watering the difficult way. The cold wet weather does mean though that plants are growing slowly and things are later than usual, although they will probably catch up quickly if the weather warms up. Another effect of the huge amount of rain is that plants may put on taller foliage than usual and not so many flowers.
June is the month for roses; one of the most loved garden flowers. They like a lot of water so they should be doing well but, if dry weather returns, try to give them some of your watering attention. Watch out for aphids and keep them under control before they gain the mastery; either removing them by hand or by spraying. Last year roses were affected by rose leaf curl ( leaves rolling up tightly) which can be controlled if you take off affected leaves as soon as you notice it. Roses will benefit from another application of rose fertiliser and the quality and profusion of flowers will be maintained by rigorous dead heading. That is a key June job for most flowers, including bedding plants. If you haven’t done it already, now is the time for setting out your bedding plants. If you can grow camellias and rhododendron their fading flowers need to be carefully removed. Many flowering shrubs will have done their bit and the flowering stems should be pruned out so that the plants have time to make new wood on which next year’s flowers will grow. Popular shrubs that benefit from this are forsythia, spirea and kolkwitzia, the beauty bush. This is the time for sowing biennial plants, such as foxgloves, wallflowers or sweet william, as it is for many perennial plants that can be grown from seed ( much cheaper than using the garden centres)
The most productive time for the vegetable garden is still to come but salad crops should be coming on well and note that the leaves of beetroot thinnings make a colourful and tasty addition to a salad. All the goodies you have been nurturing in the greenhouse or on the windowsill can be planted out now. Tomatoes will repay some attention. Once the first truss of fruit has set water them every ten days or so with liquid tomato fertiliser. Watch constantly for side shoots developing and nip them out ( unless they are of the bushy variety) The side shoots develop at the intersection of a leaf and the stem. Growth from the stem away from the leaf joint will be the flowering bit that bears the fruit so let them grow until you have four fruit- bearing “branches” on out-door plants or, perhaps eight under glass. Cucumbers will also bear best if you nip off side shoots and also remove the first two or three immature fruits on the main stem.
As well as enjoying you own garden this is the best time to enjoy other people’s. The suggestion this month is The Manor House, Barton-Le-Clay which is open together with Wayside Cottage on Sunday 17 June from 2 to 6pm. Make the most of garden visiting opportunities when you are on holiday. There are many excellent guides to open gardens; notably the “Yellow book” of the National Gardens Scheme, The Good Gardens Guide and the Garden Finder on the RHS web site