The days reach their peak this month with mid-summer on the 21st June. The garden still has the freshness of new spring growth but with the addition of the first of the summer blooms. There’s so much to do; weeding, watering, planting, pruning, sowing, more weeding, more watering… but it’s important to take time and appreciate this fleeting moment in the gardening year.
The tulips are giving way to the alliums and the peony buds are bursting into flower along the white wall border, interspersed with pops of colour from the oriental poppies. We often treat bulbs as annuals, enjoying then in pot displays then composting or throwing them away, but they can be planted out in the garden, to the same depth as they were growing in the pot and they will continue to flower for years to come. Alliums, narcissi and hyacinths all work well in borders or planted through longer grass and as they naturalise will produce stunning spring displays.
The blossom on the espalier fruit trees is mingling with the wisteria, clematis and vine leaf burst, and we are hopeful of a good harvest later in the autumn. Wisteria flowers on this year’s growth so after flowering, around mid-June, we will cut back all new growth and secure and train against the wall. A further prune takes place in the new year when the leaves have fallen and everything is more obvious, so it is better to be cautious at this time if unsure where to cut.
At this time of year apples and pears often suddenly deposit lots of tiny fruit on the ground. This is called ‘June drop’ and is the tree’s natural response to reducing the number of fruit it carries, ensuring the remainder ripen successfully. It is a good idea to selectively remove some of the developing fruit yourself before the tree does it so that you can remove the smallest, leaving 2-3 fruit per spur. These will then develop without touching and can grow and ripen without risk of damage.
The unmown main lawn is now awash with daisies, dandelions, meadow buttercup, mouse-ear, germander speedwell and the odd cuckoo-flower, attracting butterflies and a host of birds – starlings, goldfinches and blackbirds – feasting on creatures in the longer grass. We will leave two strips uncut for the whole summer, and resume mowing the central area with a higher cut from June and leaving longer between cuts. This will make the grass more resilient to dry spells of weather and allow the daisies to pop up again between cuts.
What to do with your leftover garden pots?
While we don’t have capacity to collect old pots we would appreciate it if you could return any from plants you have purchased here. Dobbies garden centres have recycling facilities for plant pots: https://www.dobbies.com/pot-recycling. Alternatively, you can decant your plant into a cardboard pot and plant straight into the ground, leaving us our plastic pots to reuse.
Have you visited our plant kiosk recently?
The plant kiosk is continually topped up with a mix of perennials from the gardens, seasonal flowers, veg and various herbs. All the plants are grown in peat free compost with no pesticides, vital considerations for addressing the biodiversity and climate crisis. Money raised from the sale of plants is a vital income, contributing to maintenance of the gardens and your support is much appreciated.
Lesley joined us again for a great bird club on 24th May. We were excited to record a willow warbler, a summer visitor, amongst the usual favourites but the highlight was watching the parent bluetits flying in and out of one of our nest boxes. The pair were kept busy bringing in insects and returning with faecal sacs from the young chicks, important to keep the nest clean for the growing youngsters! Join us for the next bird club on Wednesday 21st June at 10am, meet by the chimney and bring binoculars if you have your own.