With deciduous trees and shrubs making up much of the gardens structure, in our garden early June is spent raking leaves - lots of them - but as soon as that is dealt with it is time to move onto the hedges. This year we will be reassessing the balance between our hedges and trees, as the years have gone by the spacing between them has narrowed and we are no longer seeing between the two.
The hedges will be lowered and the trees raised to re-establish order and let in much valuable light.
To stay on track with this major undertaking we are hoping for a sunny start to winter after a wet and snow filled end to autumn.
This month we hope to tick the following off our lists:
With gaps and holes proliferating in the border over May ,by June any cohesion is lost - it is time to discipline the unruly mob.
· Prune, trim and fertilize all of the shrubs and evergreens in our borders before moving onto the perennials,
· Working from the back we will finish cutting down perennials, remove , lift or divide older clumps and loosen the soil as we go.
· Any mulch we can muster will go after each borders overhaul.
· Widen the small service path which runs through the rear of our borders for easy maintenance next summer.
· Drive in stout labelled stakes or place small terracotta pots with label underneath to mark positions of tender perennials and new additions which will be planted in spring
· There are a great many self-sown poppies that have already come up and we will spread those around but if we do need to sow new patches we will remove any mulch present and thrust a few twiggy branches in the ground to make a cage over the seedbed to protect from scratching birds.
· Congested clumps of lilies will be lifted and replanted in refreshed soil.
As the bulk of the garden ebbs away what needs to be done to restore balance becomes more obvious.
· June is a good time to evaluate the need for evergreens we are always evaluating the need for evergreens throughout the gardens with so much deciduous planting our evrgreens bring those areas into focus, providing substance when all around the bulk of the garden is abating.
· With most deciduous shrubs laid bare now is the best time for us to lift lower branches and reclaim some lost ground for other planting. We can then lift and divide clumps of wood Anemone (before they become too active) or some such early flowering perennial to plant under them.
· Clematis maximowicziana and the viticella varieties are looking scraggly by now , over the coming month they will be cut-down to 30cm or so and then liberally fed and mulched.
· June is the best time to prune and tidy tree Peonies, there is nothing more bedraggled than a peony bush hanging on to last seasons leaves and seedpods. Tree peonies benefit from being forced to make new growth from the base. As with Hydrangeas, remove some of the branches , those with the flakiest bark, from down near the base - vigorous new water shoots will replace them with lots of flowers to follow. Mulch and feed generously.
· As our temperatures plummet some long established evergreens are taking on a yellow tinge ( low temperatures expose iron deficiency)- a good dose of lime and a spray of Iron -chelates is called for to restore them to a verdant state by spring.
· A sunny day this month will be set aside to remove any rogue seedlings of other species at the bases of our hedges. There is always the odd blackberry that has established itself ready to peak through at the top over summer.We have a custom made tool much like a sharp hook on a long handle, to cut off interlopers at the root.
· We are redoing a number of our larger lawns this winter, this will entail killing off the existing mix of couch ,rye and fescue over the whole of the winter and then rotovating each area in early spring readuy for resowing.
· We didn't manage to apply iron-sulphate and potash to our other lawns last month to toughen them up over winter, so this will be done this month. A dressing Blood and Bone will be spread this month now that we have had rain - it will have broken down by spring just in time for steady new growth.
· Healthy lawns stave off weed invasion but even they have a hard time dealing with clover. If dealt with early rather later a weaker solution of a proprietary herbicide can be used.
· Di-kamba , the active ingredient in most proprietary broad- leaf herbicides is particularly toxic to English Box - be careful with its use near them.
· We have had to admit defeat with the moss in our lawns, compaction from visitors as well as a very low PH means it returns every winter regardless ofheavy dressings of lime. We can only do so much.
There are always volunteer seedlings coming up around the garden and this month we need to either thin them or move them whilst moisture is plentiful.
· Moving self-sown seedlings of Opium Poppies at this time of year makes sure they establish before the coldest weather is upon them.
· This year , while we reduce the heights of hedges etc. , renovate lawns and reorganize borders we have decided to skip planting any annuals or bulbs . Instead we will take the opportunity to clean these areas of any weeds that persist in them , a little native Veronica is one such pest and takes a great deal to eliminate.
· With new groupings planted in the bulb room a heavty layer of mushroom compost , enough to last tow years or so will be spread this month or next.
· This year we are experimenting with over-sowing the bulbs with Allysum, White Nemophila, and White Linen California Poppies to see if that combination will manage in the light shade of the crabapples overhead.
This month we will finish off potting up our display pots for spring and summer.
- June is a good month to dig up and pot a clump of Parma Violet from the garden or rejuvenate your old pots of them. Leave outside in a sheltered position until established and then bring into the relative warmth of a sun-room or closed-in verandah and enjoy the sweet fragrance at close quarters in late winter.
- Pots of Cyclamen have been available since Mother's Day we buy two or three so that we can rotate them . Cyclamens need cool temperatures and ample light if they are stay compact and continue to flower. We keep just moist by watering them from below and take the opportunity to feed them by adding a tiny amount of Aquasol to the water.
- We always try and have a few pots of Stock ( Matthiola) growing on in the greenhouse over winter. They are starting to bulk up so need light feeding to keep them going.
- This year we have expanded our ideas for pots to include different forms of Pansies which we are growing on in one of the glasshouses. Our winters are usually to persistantly wet to manage good flowers but as this year is predicted to be mild and dry we are giving them a go.
- Our pots of Freesia are active now , just 'Refract Alba', and they need to be moved out of the glasshouse during mild stretches to keep them from becoming lanky which they do very easily.
- We have just split and repotted our potted specimens of Hosta 'Tokudama' The leaves were getting smaller last season so it was time .
- At the same time we repotted our pair of Lily of the Valley pots . We do this by completely removing any soil from around the network of underground stems and them scrunch them up tighter so even more pips are ready to flower in a retricted area. We then shake fresh potting mix in through it all , add a little extra osmocote and top with spaghnum moss ready for October.
- We have a number of Japanese Spindle and Bay bushes which we keep in pots and these need the 'bonsai' treatment every few years. We decant them trim thr outer few inches of the root ball away , wash as much old soil away from the remaining roots and repot in fresh soil making sure to get as much soil back into the old root ball as possible with repeated watering.
- Some low Azalea bowls which had become buried under plastic pots in our nursery storage area have been potted up with some late sown Pansy seedlings. They have been popped into a tunnel to establish to be brought out just as they are about to flower. Winter cold and wetness can be too much for even winter hardy annuals.
A bounty of flowers for the house needs some planning and not a small amount of effort.
- Our autumn sown Sweet Peas are doing better than any we have had in the past ,due, no doubt to the mild season . We have sheets of frost cloth at the ready if cold weather and snow persists. We have plunged some small twigs in and around Sweet Peas to get them climbing as quickly as possible.
- The first wave of winter weeds has come through nothing a quick shuffle with the swoe won't deal with though.
- Our Lilies will be lifted and divided and replanted this month or next.
- Self-sown seedlings of Orlaya are making themselves obvious now so we must thin them or moved elsewhere whilst still small.
- The Helleborus foetida are getting ready to flower - they make wonderful cut-flowers towards spring - but can do with the odd support now to prevents kinks in their stems as the flowers fill out.
- We are cutting away Helleborus orientalis foliage too and mulching the plants to protect from rain spatter on the flowers later on.
- We managed to lift all of our Dahlias before the wet of the last week. They will be taken out from their frost free shed on a fine day over winter and then washed , divided and stored in boxes of sawdust which are returned to their shed until planting in November.
- It is often one the last jobs to be done for June but mulching the herbaceous Peonies needs to be done sooner rather than later. We now have weedmat spread around our rows of Peonies but that needs to be lifted and liberally fed with compost every other year and this year is it.
- We have potted up some new roses we ordered and they are sitting under cover. We are trialling cutting grown plants from a new supplier as those bushes we have grown ourselves from cutting have always outgrown the budded varieties. The stock generally used is good for mild winter areas but not colder mountain areas.
- Our small cool-greenhouse is gradually filling up with boxes of Snapdragons, Stocks, Ranunculus and Anemones which will provide cut flowers for the house later in spring. It is always a guessing game as to whether to lift the sides or not , Cutflower crops under cover need lots of cool fresh air on fine winter days to keep them strong and sturdy.
We try to ensure the following items are at the ready for winter jobs
- Potting mix
- Lime, Iron-sulphate, Potassium-sulphate,
- Blood and Bone
- Sphagnum moss
- Snail bait
- Stakes for tree planting
- Bamboo canes in various sizes
- Copper-sulphate to deal with mossy lawns
- Slow release fertilizer
- linseed oil for tools
A good job for a wet day is sorting and cleaning garden tools.
- Send off tools for sharpening in preparation for winter pruning
- Send the mower off for it's yearly service - we know putting it off will only cause headaches in spring!
- The emptying of the compost bins over winter is always gratifying, all that goodness for free.
- When filling up the compost bins we try to keep the proportion of green and brown waste equable and add lime ( to sweeten) and old compost ( to inoculate) as we go.