Gardens in June have only one equal - gardens in April. The blend of the colours and fragrances of leaves and flowers is nowhere excelled; their tranquility, beauty, and splendour combine to make a scene found nowhere else and to which gardeners the world over return constantly for their inspiration.
Plants of all sorts spill over with blossom, scent and foliage in June; shrubs come into flower thick and fast- kalmia, ceanothus, cytisus, berberis, escallonia, deutzia, weigela, gen ista, philadel ph us, spiraea, lilac, viburnum and roses of all kinds.
The climbing plants begin to make walls and fences and screens brilliant with flower; they include roses, whether they are climbers of the large-flowered kind such as `Spek’s Yellow’ or the orange ‘Schoolgirl’, or ramblers of the small-flowered double ‘Dorothy Perkins’ kind, the tubular orange flowers of Eccremocarpus scaber, honeysuckle with its sweet scent, and white .7asminum of ficinale, sweeter still, and the large-flowered clematis, blue, red, purple, lavender, white and cream. All may want tying in and will need watering, particularly if they are growing up walls.
Perennials in bloom are delphiniums, campanulas, lupins, bearded iris, evening primrose, potentilla, poppies, peonies, verbascum, geranium, veronica, cimicifuga; the list is endless. But one can relax now that the first spring rush is over, and take time to wander round the garden, mark the gaps and note the plants doing badly, decide on new ones to fill them in or replace them; one sees clearly those that do not like their positions which will be the better for transplanting in autumn.
It is very important, this wandering round; it looks aimless, but in fact, the more one can do it the better. In the process a good gardener observes his plants and their reactions to his treatment and draws conclusions which result in better plants and an even more attractive interlocking of their habits of growth, colour, leaf shapes and flowering. He sees the beginning of pest and disease attack, and the onset of weed infestation, the need for water, the appearance of deadheads and the over-luxuriant growth that wants pruning away.
Jobs to do, if one must, are staking border plants, pruning early summer flowering shrubs, tying or ringing sweet peas, liquid feeding annuals and bedding plants, mowing the lawn, spraying for rose mildew, black spot, greenfly and caterpillars. The last of the bedding plants should be out at the beginning of the month, together with dahlias and chrysanthemums. The latter should be stopped this month, in the first two weeks, and again at the end for second crown flowering, but if they are to flower at Christmas, stopping should be left until July.
Biennials can still be sown this month for next season’s spring flowering. Watering is likely to be necessary constantly, particularly the lawn. The quick growing hedges can be given their first cut in early June, privet, Lonwera mtida, blackthorn, hawthorn and gorse.
Sweet peas may flower later this month, but in any case will be growing fast. They flower more prolifically if trained up supports, tied in, and their tendrils removed. Water copiously in hot weather as bud drop occurs when the soil is dry (and if they are growing on shallow soil); liquid feeding each week will help flower production.
Perhaps the plants most evocative of the English summer scene are the old-fashioned shrub roses, and this month and July are the times to see them in nurseries, if they are not already in he garden. They need very little care, will be recurrent flowering with the right choice, and are exceedingly free from diseases, though they can be rather heavily smitten with greenfly. They are loosely held together shrubs, of between 4 and 8 ft. tall, whose flowers range from single to very double, quartered blooms, in colours of white and yellow, pink and red to deep black-crimson, taking in red and white stripes on the way; they are mostly heavily fragrant, and have wildly romantic names; ‘Belle de Crecy’, Wankgata di Bologna’, `Fantin Latour’, `Cuisse de Nymphe’, `Gloire des Mousseux’, ‘Tour de Malakoff’, `Zephirine Drouhin’ and `Roseraie de l’Hay’ are some of them. Deadheading is particularly effective in encouraging continuous flowering from June to October, and it is even possible to pick the odd flower at Christmas.
The greenhouse will be almost too hot, but the cacti will be well suited, and so will the pelargoniums. Gloxinias, begonias, streptocarpus and achimenes must have shade, however, and frequent dampings down. Seedlings of cineraria and primula can be pricked out and potted, or sown this month, together with calceolarias. The big bulbs, hippeastrum, lily and clivia will be in flower and will need plenty of water; indeed watering will be a constant ?reoccupation, being necessary twice a day in really hot weather.
Soft tip cuttings of shrubs and greenhouse plants can be removed now and placed in sandy compost, three or four to a small pot, with a polythene bag over the top to keep the atmosphere moist and the cuttings shaded. The term ‘soft’ indicates that the top 3 in. of stem are used for the cutting, before the stem has time to ripen and harden.
Tomatoes which were sown in heat in February will be ripening this month under glass, and can be allowed to carry at least eight trusses before stopping, that is, breaking off the growing tip of the main stem just above a leaf. This prevents any more upward growth. Sideshooting and overhead damping should continue; if the yellow mottling of magnesium deficiency starts to show on the leaves, spray with Epsom salts at 2 oz. per gallon immediately the first faint yellowing begins to appear and repeat four or five times at two-week intervals. Cucumbers and melons will need further control of the excess sideshoots; the latter plants should be hand pollinated.
Marrows can still be planted out at the beginning of this month, also outdoor tomatoes, celery, leeks, cauliflower, savoy cabbages, sprouts, broccoli, and autumn-winter cabbage. Peppers and aubergines can be planted out in a sunny frame, or potted on in the greenhouse at least once, using a rich planting medium in both cases. Asparagus cutting should finish by mid June, early potatoes can be dug and maincrops will need earthing up. Vegetable seeds sown outside last month will need thinning, and more seed such as peas, lettuce, parsley, radish, summer spinach, spinach beet and shorthorn carrots can be sown outside.
The soft fruit season will start in about the middle of the month, and will continue for six weeks or so, with the earliest strawberries such as ‘Cambridge Favourite’, followed by ‘Royal Sovereign’, ‘Grandee’ and `Gento’, and finishing with ‘Talisman’ and ‘Red Gauntlet’ coming in at the end of June. Raspberries will be in full flower and should be sprayed with derris ten days after flowering starts, if raspberry maggot is likely to be a trouble. The first gooseberries may be ready at the end of the month. Blackcurrants may just be ready for picking in the last week, with a variety such as `Boskoop Giant’.
Apples and pears will be suffering the June drop at the end of June, when they thin themselves naturally; spraying for mildew and scab should continue. Also spray for apple codling moth caterpillars in mid-June, repeating 2-3 weeks later. Make sure that plums and peaches against walls do not run short of water, and finish peach thinning. Strawberry runners should be removed and the plants netted. At the end of all this, spare yourself some time to enjoy the fruits (literally) of your labours with clotted cream and sugar.