Top tips for your garden in June
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Broadcaster, writer and avid gardener Toby Buckland offers up his top tips for tending to your garden this month
Embrace the summer
The garden steps out for summer in June. Trees are dapper in their full coats of foliage with leaves so soft and new they hang like silk bunting from the branches. In the weft and weave of the borders, cottage garden cranesbills, aquilegia and foxgloves knit into a bright and flowery tapestry, and there are blooms aplenty, even in neglected plots thanks to the trove of golden buttercups and dandelions that shine from the unmown grass.
Best of all is the fact that the growing season is still in its youth. And with the summer stretching out in front of us like a cat in the sunshine there’s time to grow vegetables plant flowers or just chill to the sound of birdsong. Thanks to the current global situation, it’s truly a time to get out and enjoy the garden.
What to do this month
Mow the lawn twice a week – a cut little and often is better for the grass than leaving to grow long and scalping the lot. During dry spells water spring-planted flowers and shrubs as their roots won’t have grown enough to become self-sufficient. Open greenhouse vents and leave the doors open on warm days to prevent plants inside from cooking.
Pinch the tips off flowering fuchsias and Cape daisies to encourage them to bush out as well as trailers like lobelia and lysimachia in hanging baskets. Stake any herbaceous perennials starting to flop. Supported early they soon grow back into shape. Pick sweet peas as soon as the scented blooms open to encourage more to come into flower.
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On the veg plot earth up potatoes and harvest the ‘earlies’ - flowers appearing on the plants is the sign they are ready to lift. Pinch the side-shoots from tomatoes and if you haven’t done so already buy pot-grown chillies, tomatoes and aubergines and plant in a sheltered spot in a border or pots on the patio/greenhouse. Sow French and runner beans, sweetcorn, salads, courgettes, pumpkin and carrots.
If you do just one thing
Tend to your strawberries! Put straw or pine needles below the swelling fruit to keep them clean and cover with net to protect them from the birds
Plant of the month: Foxglove
Foxgloves rise from their basal rosettes this month with the thimble-like flowers opening in sequence from the bottom of the spike up. They do this to stay just above surrounding foliage where the nectar-filled flowers have some shelter and are in the flight path of passing bumblebees. Classified as ‘biennials’, foxgloves - aka digitalis - grow as a clump of leaves in their first summer and flower the next, but if you scatter seeds now, before the first hedgerow blooms open you can steal a march and get them into flower for June next year. Good varieties include ‘Pam’s Choice’, which has white blooms with a purple throat, or the pastel-coloured ‘Excelsior’ hybrids.