Flaming June? Not yet, but we can hope! We have been promised a barbecue summer, but isn’t that what they said last year? Whatever the weather, there’s plenty to enjoy in the garden.
Floral & Hardy’s Top Ten Flowering Plants for June:
Flowering Garlic – still one of my (and many a show garden’s) favourite, a summer bulb with eye-catching, large globular heads of silvery lilac to deep mauve star-shaped flowers on tall stems, and strappy foliage.
Masterwort – an old cottage garden plant that can look just as good in more contemporary schemes. The old varieties were a bit insignificant, but some of the new ones are much more vibrant with stunning, wine-red, pin-cushion-like flowers and attractive lobed foliage. They are particularly useful as they tolerate shade.
Many of the really spectacular large-flowered varieties of these climbers are coming into bloom now, with flowers ranging in colour from white to pinks, reds, mauves, blues, and even pale yellow. Easy to look after if you stick to the pruning instructions on the label.
Larkspur – what English country garden would be complete without these stately perennials for the back of the border, with attractive deeply cut foliage and spires of flowers ranging from white to pink to mauve to intense deep blue. Truly majestic plants, but not awfully easy to look after, they need really good soil, lots of water and their height means they need staking early on. Slugs and snails can be a real problem in the spring too. Surely worth the effort though?
Foxtail Lily – an unusual plant not often seen in gardens, possibly because it can be quite difficult to get the growing conditions right. It needs full sun all day, free-draining soil, protection from cold winds, copious watering during dry weather and protection from frost in winter. If you can provide all this though, they are well worth the effort with spectacular upright flower spikes of white, yellow, orange, peach or pink, rivalled only by the Delphiniums in stateliness.
Cranes Bill – an undemanding perennial with saucer-shaped flowers in a range of colours from white to pink, mauve and blue, some with attractive veining, above attractive mounds of deeply cut foliage. If you have the time to dead-head the fading flowers, the flowering season will last much longer.
Day Lily – such a great plant, so named because each flower lasts only a day, but is quickly replaced by another, giving this plant a long flowering season. It’s easy to look after and there are so many colours to choose from. As a bonus the flowers are edible too!
Shasta Daisy – an easy-to-grow perennial with simple, large white daisy flowers with a prominent yellow eye, great en masse in the borders, but also good for cutting. Attractive double varieties are also available.
Mock Orange – quite large, dense deciduous shrubs, some with beautiful lime green foliage, with masses of large, cupped, gorgeously scented, double white flowers.
Lilac – one of the mainstays of the British garden, and although it flowers for a relatively short period, the size and fragrance of the blooms of this large shrub more than make up for this. Varieties with white, pink, lilac and purple flowers are available. But remember it’s supposed to be bad luck to bring flowers of the white varieties into the house!
June Tips and Advice
1. You’re safe to plant out your summer bedding now, if you haven’t already done so. Get those hanging baskets up!
2. Keep sowing salad leaves to get a succession of harvests throughout the summer. Courgettes and Swedes can be sown now too.
3. Plant out Tomatoes now and put in the stakes for upright varieties before placing the plants to avoid damaging the roots. There are also many trailing varieties that are good for hanging baskets – attractive and productive too!
4. If you have fan-trained fruit trees, remove any shoots that are growing towards the wall or out from the front of the tree and tie in shoots growing along the supporting wires.
5. Tie in canes of Raspberries and Blackberries, thinning canes out if they have become too congested.
6. Protect developing Strawberries by spreading straw under the plants. (You can also buy strawberry mats from the garden centre, or simply use black polythene).
7. Water everything well if we do get a lot of dry weather. Do it in the evening if you can so that the sun doesn’t dry it up straight away. Also, it’s better to give everything a really thorough watering once a week, rather than a sprinkling every day as this only encourages the roots to come up to the surface where they’ll dry out.
8. Top up ponds and water features regularly as some water will be lost due to evaporation.
9. Feed everything once a week, that way you’ll get a lot more flowers.
10. Tie in all your lovely climbers as they grow so that shoots don’t get damaged or too entangled.
11. Keep looking out for pests and diseases in all your plants and treat before they become too infested.
12. They say the first cut of box hedging should be done on Derby day and indeed all hedges can be pruned in June. Be careful that your tools are sharp and on no account allow the top of the hedge to become wider than the bottom, otherwise the bottom will suffer due to lack of light.
13. If your Ceanothus (Californian Lilac) has got too big, it can be pruned back once the flowers have gone over, as can Evergreen Berberis (Barberry), Chaenomeles (Japanese Quince), Cytisus (Broom), Kerria (Jew’s Mallow), Philadelphus (Mock Orange), Syringa (Lilac) and Weigela.
14. Keep up with your weeding, but don’t forget sometimes to just sit back and enjoy!
By Helen Ellison