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Flaming June

PUBLISHED: 14:57 07 January 2011 | UPDATED: 16:03 20 February 2013

raspberries

raspberries

This month Chris Beardshaw finds it a busy but rewarding time in the garden

The garden really seems to settle into its stride this month with trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants showing off their glory in full leaf and flower. It's easy to feel that this is an incredibly demanding month; many jobs simply won't wait so keep on top of the pressing jobs to ensure the garden thrives. To add to pressures the fickle British weather can keep us on our toes, keep a sharp eye for late frosts in the valleys and watersides. Most importantly of all take time to sit and enjoy the garden - the Cotswolds are at their finest when boisterous with growth and flowers this month. The summer solstice on 21st reminds me to make the most of the summer warmth and long days - perfect for all those outdoor parties.

Plants to enjoy this month include the ravishing Roses, especially the old English forms that seem to thrive in our heavy soils. Honeysuckles, Trachelospermum and Jasmine are sure to fill the evening air with romance while the flamboyant frills of herbaceous Paeony capture perfectly the opulence and depth of summer floral beauty perfectly.

Jobs

· Tender Exotics:

Harden off and plant out tender exotics this month such as Canna, Dahlia and Lemon Verbena. Those that have been protected from frosts in the glasshouse need placing outside in cold frames but do cover with fleece if cold weather is forecast. You need to allow the plant a couple of weeks or so of hardening off before planting out. When planting Dahlias pinch out the tips to encourage stronger side shoots and increased flowering potential, then plant in organic matter rich soil in a warm sunny site alongside late summer plants Canna, Ginger and Miscanthus.

· Thinning Vegetables:

Early sowings of vegetables such as carrots, spinach and beetroot can now be thinned with the thinning material offering good fresh salad leaves and the remaining plants being allowed to fill out. Spacing varies from one species to the next but allow a minimum of 5cm for carrots and 10cm for beets and salads.

· Soft Fruit:

As the fruits of blackberry, currants and gooseberry start to develop keep the plants well irrigated to ensure that fruits don't fall and that they become succulent. Water often and heavily if the weather dries using collected water. Adding a mulch of organic matter will help retain soil moisture. Before the fruits ripen protect them with netting and mesh to beat the birds. Remember that birds always start taking fruit when it is unripe, so don't wait till the berries start to colour before you act. Also make sure that the cages or blankets are completely sealed even at ground level, as an enterprising bird will find the smallest of gaps through which to flutter.

· Shrub Pruning:

Spring and early summer flowering shrubs can be pruned once flowering is complete. This applies to plants that are well established, and have been growing well for at least three to four years. Remove one third of the oldest stems to within 10cm of ground level as this promotes fresh flower bearing growth from the base. Plants such as Lilac, Deutzia, Philadelphus and Kolkwitzia respond well to this style of annual prune and also benefit from an application of general-purpose fertiliser to stimulate healthy growth. Don't throw the pruned stems away as the tips, showing fresh growth can be used as semi ripe or softwood cuttings. Choose a non flowering shoot, prune just below a leaf node where the wood is soft and prune out the tip to leave a cutting of 5- 8cm length. Insert cuttings into loamy compost enriched with grit or sand and keep in a propagator till roots form.

· Lily Beetle:

Check carefully for Lily Beetle as these voracious feeders as just a handful can completely devastate your plants. Lilioceris lilii is a conspicuous scarlet-coated beetle that feeds on the fresh foliage of Lily, Fritillaria and Solomon 's seal, stripping foliage from the edges, and in severe attacks defoliating the plant totally. A female will lay about 200 eggs on the foliage and the larvae, surrounded in black slime, also graze the leaves before retiring to the ground after about one month where they pupate. Treatment is not easy the most reliable way of removal is to pick beetles from the plants and wash away the larvae. Derris based insecticides are available but these should be used only late in the evening as during the day lacewings and ladybirds are active and susceptible.

· Watch out for Powdery Mildew

A warm spell after less than plentiful rain often makes plants susceptible to diseases and one of the first to become evident is powdery mildew. Plants particularly vulnerable include Roses, Peony, Penstemon, Phlox and Aster. Inspect the foliage frequently and as soon as the fungus is apparent dust with sulphur.

· Divide early flowering plants

Those glorious spring blooms of Cowslips, Primrose and Doronicum may seem like an age ago by over the past couple of months the plants will have been setting seed and recharging themselves for flowering next season. Check plants for ripe seeds, they should rattle in the pods, and harvest if ripe. Alternatively, bulk up your spring display by lifting and dividing the plants. One good sized clump of Primrose can usually be divided into four by forking it from the ground, prizing it apart with your hands to ensure a clump of root and crown on each, then replanting either in the garden or into pots. Keep plants well watered and fed as they make new leaf growth then plant out in autumn for spring flowering.

· Tidy Hellebores

Hybrid Hellebores that flowered early in the season have almost run out of energy by this time of the year and the foliage becomes rather weary. Cut the old leaves away just above ground and burn to reduce the risk of black spot. The old flower heads may have set seed, allow these to dry and harvest entire stems, place them in a paper bag and hang in a warm dry room for a few days then sow. Use organic matter rich compost, sow shallowly and keep the pots moist in shade till germination takes place.

My Diary:

Frenetic gardening activity this month is matched by my workload. June may mean that Chelsea Flower Show has been and gone but my new permanent garden at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight is unveiled for English Heritage opens on 3rd June and I am then going to be London based for a week or so creating a new Peace Garden to be opened in July. In amongst that I will be visiting Falmouth University College as external examiner - a role I have had for the past 3 years - and I will be popping back up to Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh to spend some time with the design students there. Look out for further details on all these projects on www.chrisbeardshaw.com. If you want to ask gardening questions then I'm frequently found on www.gardenersclick.com so do visit and meet our other members.

The garden really seems to settle into its stride this month with trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants showing off their glory in full leaf and flower. It's easy to feel that this is an incredibly demanding month; many jobs simply won't wait so keep on top of the pressing jobs to ensure the garden thrives. To add to pressures the fickle British weather can keep us on our toes, keep a sharp eye for late frosts in the valleys and watersides. Most importantly of all take time to sit and enjoy the garden - the Cotswolds are at their finest when boisterous with growth and flowers this month. The summer solstice on 21st reminds me to make the most of the summer warmth and long days - perfect for all those outdoor parties.

Plants to enjoy this month include the ravishing Roses, especially the old English forms that seem to thrive in our heavy soils. Honeysuckles, Trachelospermum and Jasmine are sure to fill the evening air with romance while the flamboyant frills of herbaceous Paeony capture perfectly the opulence and depth of summer floral beauty perfectly.

Jobs

· Tender Exotics:

Harden off and plant out tender exotics this month such as Canna, Dahlia and Lemon Verbena. Those that have been protected from frosts in the glasshouse need placing outside in cold frames but do cover with fleece if cold weather is forecast. You need to allow the plant a couple of weeks or so of hardening off before planting out. When planting Dahlias pinch out the tips to encourage stronger side shoots and increased flowering potential, then plant in organic matter rich soil in a warm sunny site alongside late summer plants Canna, Ginger and Miscanthus.

· Thinning Vegetables:

Early sowings of vegetables such as carrots, spinach and beetroot can now be thinned with the thinning material offering good fresh salad leaves and the remaining plants being allowed to fill out. Spacing varies from one species to the next but allow a minimum of 5cm for carrots and 10cm for beets and salads.

· Soft Fruit:

As the fruits of blackberry, currants and gooseberry start to develop keep the plants well irrigated to ensure that fruits don't fall and that they become succulent. Water often and heavily if the weather dries using collected water. Adding a mulch of organic matter will help retain soil moisture. Before the fruits ripen protect them with netting and mesh to beat the birds. Remember that birds always start taking fruit when it is unripe, so don't wait till the berries start to colour before you act. Also make sure that the cages or blankets are completely sealed even at ground level, as an enterprising bird will find the smallest of gaps through which to flutter.

· Shrub Pruning:

Spring and early summer flowering shrubs can be pruned once flowering is complete. This applies to plants that are well established, and have been growing well for at least three to four years. Remove one third of the oldest stems to within 10cm of ground level as this promotes fresh flower bearing growth from the base. Plants such as Lilac, Deutzia, Philadelphus and Kolkwitzia respond well to this style of annual prune and also benefit from an application of general-purpose fertiliser to stimulate healthy growth. Don't throw the pruned stems away as the tips, showing fresh growth can be used as semi ripe or softwood cuttings. Choose a non flowering shoot, prune just below a leaf node where the wood is soft and prune out the tip to leave a cutting of 5- 8cm length. Insert cuttings into loamy compost enriched with grit or sand and keep in a propagator till roots form.

· Lily Beetle:

Check carefully for Lily Beetle as these voracious feeders as just a handful can completely devastate your plants. Lilioceris lilii is a conspicuous scarlet-coated beetle that feeds on the fresh foliage of Lily, Fritillaria and Solomon 's seal, stripping foliage from the edges, and in severe attacks defoliating the plant totally. A female will lay about 200 eggs on the foliage and the larvae, surrounded in black slime, also graze the leaves before retiring to the ground after about one month where they pupate. Treatment is not easy the most reliable way of removal is to pick beetles from the plants and wash away the larvae. Derris based insecticides are available but these should be used only late in the evening as during the day lacewings and ladybirds are active and susceptible.

· Watch out for Powdery Mildew

A warm spell after less than plentiful rain often makes plants susceptible to diseases and one of the first to become evident is powdery mildew. Plants particularly vulnerable include Roses, Peony, Penstemon, Phlox and Aster. Inspect the foliage frequently and as soon as the fungus is apparent dust with sulphur.

· Divide early flowering plants

Those glorious spring blooms of Cowslips, Primrose and Doronicum may seem like an age ago by over the past couple of months the plants will have been setting seed and recharging themselves for flowering next season. Check plants for ripe seeds, they should rattle in the pods, and harvest if ripe. Alternatively, bulk up your spring display by lifting and dividing the plants. One good sized clump of Primrose can usually be divided into four by forking it from the ground, prizing it apart with your hands to ensure a clump of root and crown on each, then replanting either in the garden or into pots. Keep plants well watered and fed as they make new leaf growth then plant out in autumn for spring flowering.

· Tidy Hellebores

Hybrid Hellebores that flowered early in the season have almost run out of energy by this time of the year and the foliage becomes rather weary. Cut the old leaves away just above ground and burn to reduce the risk of black spot. The old flower heads may have set seed, allow these to dry and harvest entire stems, place them in a paper bag and hang in a warm dry room for a few days then sow. Use organic matter rich compost, sow shallowly and keep the pots moist in shade till germination takes place.

My Diary:

Frenetic gardening activity this month is matched by my workload. June may mean that Chelsea Flower Show has been and gone but my new permanent garden at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight is unveiled for English Heritage opens on 3rd June and I am then going to be London based for a week or so creating a new Peace Garden to be opened in July. In amongst that I will be visiting Falmouth University College as external examiner - a role I have had for the past 3 years - and I will be popping back up to Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh to spend some time with the design students there. Look out for further details on all these projects on www.chrisbeardshaw.com. If you want to ask gardening questions then I'm frequently found on www.gardenersclick.com so do visit and meet our other members.

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