This is such an exuberant and joyous month with Roses, Clematis, Peonies and Philadelphus flowers blooming, the garden feels decadent and luxurious. I hope you can enjoy time in your garden or at your allotment this month, there’s so much to do, see and enjoy!
If you are wishing you could brighten your garden with some containers, but you’re away a lot, or you find watering difficult, don’t despair you have plenty of options: Lavender, Pelargoniums and Verbena cope well without a regimented watering regime, and Sedums and Sempervivums look beautiful and don’t require any additional watering. When planting containers, good preparation, the right-sized pot, quality peat free compost and drainage are essential for a long lasting and attractive display.
It’s the perfect time to sow the following biennials; Oenothera biennis (evening primrose), Cheiranthus cheiri (wallflower), Dianthus barbatus, Dipsacus fullonum (teasel), Digitalis purpurea (foxglove), Hesperis matronalis (sweet rocket), Lunaria biennis (honesty), Myosotis sylvatica (forget-me-not), polyanthus, poppies, sweet Williams, winter pansies, and Verbascum thapsus. These varieties are very beneficial to bees, pollinating insects and wildlife, and look fantastic in your garden!
Take your time when deadheading Rhododendrons, new shoots will be developing right underneath the spent flowers, you don’t want to damage, or worse still remove, the new buds, so take your time and using your fingertips carefully remove the faded blooms. Your care and effort will be rewarded with a brighter looking plant with a lovely shape.
It’s the ideal time to take soft-wood cuttings of shrubs such a Deutzia and Weigela.
If you’ve got concerns about slugs and snails, there are so many options other than slug pellets that you can use to protect your plants. Horse hair and human hair provide fantastic protection against slugs and snails, just sprinkle it around your plants. Soot, ash from the fire, eggshells, grit, and sand are also useful. The slug with its soft, slimy body does not want to cross a barrier that will dry it out or be abrasive to the slug or snail’s protective coating. Copper bands are also very effective, but these do require a quick once over with some sandpaper every now and then to prevent the copper oxidising. There are many other remedies too; there’s really no need to use nasty slug pellets which are so detrimental to birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife that rely on slugs and snails for food. I’d much rather have hedgehogs in my garden than slug pellets!
Feed roses with a specially designed rose feed to encourage flowering. Give your plants a couple of full watering cans every couple of weeks in dry weather.
Stop harvesting asparagus now. Provide supports for your Asparagus ferns using bamboo canes and string, position the canes at regular intervals, to form a rectangle around the asparagus, and then simply wind or tie the twine around the canes to provide support, at three intervals, from fairly close to the ground upwards. This will protect your asparagus against wind damage, allowing the ferns to develop to their full size and build up the necessary reserves and strength for next year’s crop.
In trials on my own allotment I have found companion planting asparagus with Calendula reduces the number of asparagus beetles and their larva that my asparagus endures. I grow open centered varieties of Calendula, which are great for bees and other pollinating insects, such as the regular pot marigold Calendula officinalis, or for something a bit different try Calendula officinalis ‘Sherbet Fizz’, or Calendula officinalis nana ‘Fruit Twist’.
Plant out summer cabbages, broccoli and Brussels sprouts now. Protect your plants from cabbage root fly using home-made cardboard discs, with a slit into the centre – so you can insert them around your plants. It’s important your protector fits fairly snuggly, as the adult fly wants to lay her eggs on the soil at the base of the stem. Eggs laid on cardboard or roofing felt will dry out, and the eggs won’t hatch. It’s also wise to cover brassicas with netting to protect against cabbage white butterflies and pigeons.
While you’ve got the net out, you may want to net any fruit trees or bushes too – but ensure your net has wide enough spaces for bees to get through, so they can pollinate your fruit.
Earth up maincrop potatoes.
Remove any flower spikes on rhubarb as they appear.
If you get time to put your feet up, it’s the ideal time to pre-order bulbs, corms and tubers from specialist nurseries to plant this autumn. The more exciting and unusual varieties tend to sell out quickly, so it’s wise to think ahead and place your order early.
This article was first published in the mid-June 2014 edition of The Surrey and Hants News.
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