June is a busy time in the garden. Here’s how to keep on top of it all.
Watering and feeding…
Give the garden a good soak once or twice a week in warm weather, concentrating on newly planted shrubs and trees. Containers can need watering daily when it’s hot. Water in the morning or evening and use ‘grey’ (wash water), a water butt and an irrigation system – much more efficient than a hose – where possible.
Apply or renew a mulch of well-rotted manure to cut down on weeding and watering– ideally after a downpour, as mulch keeps water out, as well as in.
Feed flowering pot plants weekly with liquid fertiliser and hungry plants like sweet peas and clematis a mid season boost of general purpose organic fertiliser such as blood fish and bone, and water in.
Pruning and tidying…
Prune evergreen topiary and hedges. Trim about 5cm of new growth from box (buxus) with pruning shears. Prune spring flowering shrubs such as weigela, philadelphus and deciduous magnolias. Follow with a general purpose organic fertiliser and mulch.
Deadhead spent flowers of plants like roses – it’ll really prolong the flowering period. Snip off browning heads with secateurs to a bud or leaf below. Cut hardy geraniums back with shears for a second flush and pick, pick, pick sweet peas to keep them coming (providing your house with a constant supply of fresh and beautifully scented flower).
Pull out annual weeds by hand, or with a hoe, while they’re small. Dig out perennials like dandelions from lawns or beds –any roots left can regrow.
Cut down dead foliage on bulbs – around six weeks after flowering and ideally when it’s gone yellow. Until then they should be watered and fed to prepare them for next year. Lift and divide iris clumps after flowering.
Stake tall perennials like phlox and hollyhocks to avoid them collapsing or being battered by rain. I prefer using cherry sticks (for sale at Shannon’s Garden Centre) than bamboos as I feel they blend better , or look out for more ornamental supports such as the rusted iron ones (Alleyn Park Garden Centre stock a beautiful selection).
Tie in climbing and rambling roses to avoid them becoming a mess – ideally horizontally to encourage more flowers. Prune back Clematis montana into its allotted space, as well as honeysuckle and other vigorous climbers.
And the rest…
Look out for slugs and snails, particularly after rain, and around new shoots. Pick them off or use organic slug pellets or beer traps (jars of beer sunk into the soil to attract and drown slugs!). Squeeze off greenfly infestations with your fingers or squirt them with soapy water.
Mow the lawn once or twice a week – the less grass taken off each time the healthier it’ll be. Raise the blades if it’s dry. Feed the lawn with a liquid or slow release fertiliser such as chicken manure pellets. Ensure newly laid grass doesn’t dry out.
Plant out runner beans, courgettes, and tomatoes – which like a sunny wall and lots of water. Surround ripening strawberries with straw to keep them off the soil and protect fruit bushes with netting. Pick elderflowers if you have any in your garden , for a summery cordial, just perfect with your (well earned) G&T, trust me.
Don’t forget to check out the NGS garden Festival and visit local gardens that open their doors for charity, a fabulous event.
Barbara Samitier is a garden designer who lives in Peckham Rye.
This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of SE22 magazine.