June has been a real mixture of weather. Flaming at some points with temperatures up to 28C and then windy and cold down to 15C and plenty of rain. UK weather has always been unpredictable, but climate change has brought a whole new meaning to that. Differences in temperature of around 12 degrees between one day and the next are testing for woman and plant! More about that further down.
The vegetable garden is doing amazingly well. Warm sun and lots of rain are just what vegetables like and they are rewarding my patience at the moment. Where everything was a bit dry and sparse last month, this month they are excelling themselves. We are picking radishes, lettuce and spring onions. We have had one meal off the mange-tout and plenty more to come, the courgettes are cropping well and the pointed cabbages are almost ready. I’ve pulled half the beetroot today and they have been roasted before being made into pickle. The runner beans finally made it up the sticks, have flowered well and there are tiny beans showing. Also a blackfly problem, but hey – have runner beans, have blackfly. I couldn’t resist exploring one of the potato bags and we have a few beautiful new potatoes. They weren’t seed potatoes so I’m not expecting big crops – they were just a couple of old wrinkly potatoes from the food cupboard that had begun to sprout!
I wrote last time about the long east-facing border in the side garden, raising the crowns on the Camellias and doing some underplanting here and there. It’s starting to fill out in places although there is still a lot of work to do. The Hebe, Hydrangea and hardy Geranium combination is working really well now. We thought the Hebe was a purple variety, but now it’s in flower, it turns out it’s white. I’ve left the old Euphorbia flower heads on and I’m quite pleased with the effect. There is a startlingly pink Penstemon there too. It’s lovely and bright but I think it needs to be somewhere else. Come the autumn, it will get moved.
In the small rear garden we took down a very old and very overgrown Jasmine and planted Echium. We lost one, but the remaining three have settled in nicely. There are a lot of Fuchsia in this garden and some of them are doing really well. I cut them right back to the ground at the end of winter because they were damaged with gall mite. Most of them have grown back well and are full of flower. There’s really no treatment for Fuchsia gall mite so my strategy is to cut them right back hard every early spring and then keep an eye on them through spring and summer, nipping off any shoots that look affected. It’s worked reasonably well, there are plenty of flowers but one of the plants has succumbed again to the mite, blunting the shoots and distorting leaf and bud.
The spell of hot weather encouraged us to think about where we might relax in the garden. We have quite a big decked area – you will remember one of the first. projects was to clear a small bed and plant some roses in front of the deck – and have a simple table and chairs for eating outside, but nothing ‘comfortable’ for relaxing. We have invested in a corner seating area with a low table and a parasol to protect us from the heat of the sun. We have already spent a lot of time out here, reading and observing the garden, planning and relaxing. Money well spent.
Our plan for a ‘mediterranean’ terrace at the front of the house is progressing slowly. Since the garden centres opened up we have been along (carefully – masked and gloved and observing social distancing) and added to our stock of bright Geraniums. In terracotta pots and lit by the sun they look just as we hoped they would – colourful, vibrant, gay. At the same visit to the garden centre I was tempted by a beautiful Bougainvillea plant. Fresh green leaves and intense cerise flower bracts, it was just a perfect centrepiece for this display. Sadly, over a period of about ten days the blooms have been falling off. I’ve brought it indoors and hopefully can keep it alive. I guess south west England isn’t quite the French riviera.
That’s the garden in June. See you next month. Don’t forget to look at 6-on-Saturday and the Core Edge Journal!
Stay safe. Keep your distance. Wash your hands.