The Month of Many Flowers
With our resident gardening expert, Aileen Atcheson
June is the month when many of the flowers are at their best. Roses have long stems, sweetpea are coming out; lupins, peonies, they are all coming into bloom.
Dead heading is very important at this time of year. Flowers will stop unless you refuse to allow them seed.Pick sweetpea nearly every day.
Go out early in the morning and again at dusk, with a flashlamp if necessary, and gather up slugs. Drown them in salted water. A bit of salt around your plants will kill snails and slugs, but impoverishes the soil too so one can’t use much of it.
Mulch the surface of your soil. It will deter slugs a little and save on watering. It retains the moisture.
June rose petals are the best for pot pourri. Mignonette, tobacco plants, sweetpeas, should all be gathered after dusk.
The Californian poppy is a fast grower. You should have sown seed where you wanted it to grow in mid-spring, but if not maybe some body will give you a bit. Self-seeding year after year, they grow well in poor soil with a bit of grit added. Dead head regularly.
If you have steps in your garden, line up pots of low set grasses and cacti. For a good performance all season, easy care succulents need bright sunlight, top dressing with real grit and not too much water or rain.
‘Rosa spinosissima Mrs. Colville’ has vivid pink blooms with white centres. It grows well in late spring and early summer and has nice hips for autumn. It makes a good hedge or ground cover in shady places so well worth having, Make a note to get a bit soon.
If you are lucky enough to be starting a new garden, check the soil PH first. If it is alkaline then some plants, rhododendrons, pieris, camellias, are unsuitable. And many of the heathers are too.
Dig well and remove weeds. Cover the bed with a bit of old carpet for a while to smother or well ther the weeds. Then dig in lots of well rotted compost and leaf mould. Farm manure is more a soil conditioner than a provider of plant nourishment. Organic matter, anything that rots and forms humus, is essential for a good soil. Combine with a bit of Growmore fish, blood and bone meal and you should be able to grow most things well.
It is only now you should cut back the foliage of your daffodil bulbs. If you don’t leave the foliage on for about eight weeks after flowering you won’t have flowers the following year. Give bulbs a dressing of bone meal.
If you haven’t sown your swede turnips yet you have left it very late but go ahead anyhow. Pick a sunny spot, give a dressing of lime, and ten days before sowing give a dressing of general purpose fertiliser for vegetables, organic seaweed will be fine.
Sow in rows fifteen inches apart, thin out when the seedlings are big enough to handle, do this in stages until they are about nine inches apart. ‘Magres’, ‘Best of All’ and ‘Marian’ are all good varieties to try.
Your dwarf French beans need to be earthed up. Keep damped overhead in dry weather. As soon as you have room plant out broccoli and cabbage.
Rot nettles in a bucket of water and keep the bucket outdoors for a few weeks. This is a great fertiliser, especially for outdoor tomatoes. Spray your roses with a handful of soda dissolved in boiling water and left too cool. It helps prevent mildew.
A spoonful of Epsom salts dissolved in one pint of warm water, is a great tonic for plants, especially roses. Crushed egg shells scattered round plants helps keep the slugs at bay. And sprinkle a few crushed mothballs around your flowerbeds and pot plants to discourage cats from digging and scratching.
Cowslips seem to be making a bit of a comeback. If you can get a few seeds sow them now in shallow enough topsoil, poor soil suits them. It usually sets seed itself and in time a little colony of plants will result.
You can prune fruit containing stones now, Cherries and Plums. Only prune these slightly and only between April and June. The sap is flowing freely then. This prevents the organisms responsible for Silver Leaf disease entering the sap stream. If Silver Leaf gets into the sap, in a few years it will probably kill the tree.