Gardening in June – Flower Power

It’s all going in the garden this month when everything that promised to burst into flower in May will do just that – giving a show of colour and exuberance that will take your breath away and remind you of why you put in all that hard work earlier in the year.

Flower Power is the name of the game this month and if you’ve only just got going or moved house and so are still finding your new garden feet, take a weekend trip to your local garden centre and stock up on those summer favourites that will need to be planted or potted up in a position where they can spend this month luxuriating in the warmth of early summer and any sunshine we are lucky enough to get.

Top of your shopping list – before you buy a single plant – should be a loam-based compost that will help feed hungry flowering plants throughout the month then move on down the aisles and pile your trolley high with the brightest coloured flowering plants you can find, including pelargoniums, petunias, nicotianas and impatients – the latter better known as bizzy lizzies. As well as bringing new colour into the garden, you’ll be working hard this month to look after those plants that flowered early. I’m thinking about those early show perennials, including Oriental poppies and some geraniums. Cut these back with a firm hand – right back to the base – and you’ll get a second, later summer showing.

If it’s June it’s also Wimbledon and if it’s Wimbledon, it’s strawberry time. There is nothing more satisfying than growing your own but in our English climate, the damp can be a problem. So if you are going to try and grow strawberries, bed them down in straw to help the fruit ripen or, if you live in the city and straw is in scarce supply. Use garden fleece to wrap around the base of the plants. Better still, grow Alpine strawberries that are a little more forgiving of our unpredictable weather and will even tolerate a little shade.

It’s also time tie up young tomato plants growing outdoors and to pinch out side shoots to help encourage fruiting. If your tomato plants are growing in the greenhouse then make sure you are feeding them regularly with a high potash feed that will also encourage fruiting. And whilst you are outdoors staking, tie in your early planted sweet peas to encourage more flowering and if you’ve planted yours later, pinch back to 6 inches to encourage branching and enough flowers to keep a pot of the kitchen window sill over the next several months.

Talking of cutting flowers for the home or to gift to family and friends when you visit, June is also the month to take extra special care of the rose garden if you have one or any roses in pots or the flower beds. You absolutely must prune out black spot to stop it spreading making sure you burn (don’t compost) those affected parts and that you disinfect your cutting tools. If your roses bushes have grown leggy, hide bare stems by underplanting with herbs and give your roses a secret super-boost feed by burying potassium-rich banana skins about an inch under the soil around each plant – they will love you for it.

Finally, it’s not just the flowers you want in your garden that love the longer, warmer days of early summer – so do those pesky weeds.

And the best way to tackle weeds, wherever they are springing up, is little and often. Hoe your flower and veg beds regularly which will not only help you keep unwanted plants at bay but also makes the soil more crumbly and better able to retain water which will help once the sun comes out and the ground starts to become more parched.