June: let the summer begin!
June is a great month for our gardens. We’ve got warmer temperatures (usually!) to encourage us to spend loads of time outside, but there tends to still be plenty of moisture in the ground and this provides a wonderful environment for most garden plants. Sure, the weeds will also enjoy the same conditions, but look beyond them and enjoy all that this month has to offer…
This month's star plants
I once read Alan Titchmarsh use the word ‘blowsy’ when describing June and I have to say I agree. June is a month where many of our favourite flowers start to appear. Roses, whether climbing or shrub, are a great example of this. Try the vigrorous Rosa ‘Kiftsgate’ or the thornless Rosa ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ over a pergola or against a wall, or Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’ as a shrub in amongst mixed planting. Clematis are also of great interest this month, with Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ and Clematis ‘Barbara Jackman’ justifiably two of the most popular amongst many of the people I talk to.
Many herbaceous perennials are also starting to reward us with flower in June. Geranium (my favourites are ‘Wargrave Pink’ and ‘Johnson’s Blue’) will flower throughout the summer, as will one of my all-time star plants- Alchemilla mollis. The ‘foams’ of small acid-yellow flowers of the Alchemilla are perfectly complemented by its large mid-green leaves which seem to catch every drop of water and hold it like a bead of mercury. Yes, it seeds itself rather too freely for some people, but it’s versatility and reliability more than compensates in my book.
Elsewhere, Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ should still be offering its simple red flowers with contrasting orange stamens, and Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii provides large ‘nodding’ clusters of colour. The Nepeta (catnip/catmint) will also be starting to bloom, along with Acanthus mollis, and Acanthus spinosus. I absolutely love the height and colour variations of Digitalis (foxgloves) (pictured above), and particularly the way they self-seed throughout a border. Finally, don’t forget to look out for Hostas. Their fresh new leaves look great at this time of year and, if we are lucky, they’ll have been missed by the slugs and snails!
This month's garden jobs
June is a month to be enjoyed, but it is also a month to keep on top of the jobs. Our lawns will need regular mowing, although if warmer and drier weather sets in we should find that growth gradually begins to slow. Weeding is still important, but good groundcover planting (e.g. Geranium, Alchemilla, and Heuchera) can really help to crowd out many weeds and reduce the work. I always ensure that we provide a generous amount of ground cover in our planting designs to reduce the amount of weeding that needs to be done.
Depending on the weather, it is also a good idea to keep an eye on watering. We’re all quite rightly being encouraged to reduce the use of hosepipes, and I have a water-butt to collect rainwater from the roof of my greenhouse. I’d encourage everyone to do the same wherever possible. Established plants in beds and borders shouldn’t really need watering except in the most extreme of dry spells, but plants growing in pots or any food crops certainly will. Let’s not lose this summer’s tomatoes for the sake of five minutes with a watering can each evening.
Finally, if our fruit trees lose a proportion of their developing crop in the next few weeks try not to worry. ‘June drop’ is a perfectly natural occurrence for many varieties of apples and pears, and is just the tree’s way of thinning its crop to a manageable size.
Whatever the weather, enjoy all that the June garden has to offer.
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.