Work up a THIRST

Things are look­ing rosy in the gar­den, says Sue Bradley, who is reach­ing for the wa­ter­ing can as the weeks warm up

Living France - - À LA MAISON -

June is the month when sum­mer re­ally be­gins in France and no flower sums up this time of year more than the rose. Gar­den­ers all over the world have the French to thank for a ver­i­ta­ble bou­quet of glo­ri­ous old roses, many of which are still avail­able to­day.

They in­clude the climber ‘Madame Al­fred Car­rière’ ( pic­tured above), which puts on a stun­ning dis­play of fra­grant white noisette blooms for much of the sum­mer, and the ram­bler ‘Félic­ité– Per­pétue’, which dates back as far as 1827 and is adorned with a gen­er­ous dis­play of creamy white pom­poms.

And who hasn’t heard of the beau­ti­ful pink climb­ing rose ‘Sou­venir de la Mal­mai­son’, named af­ter the fa­mous gar­den of the Em­press Josephine, with its soft pink, strongly scented dou­ble flow­ers.

Some roses, ‘Félic­ité–Per­pétue’ among them, flower once, af­ter which they should be pruned so that they have all sum­mer to gen­er­ate new wood on which the fol­low­ing year’s buds will be formed.

Oth­ers are what are known as re­peat flow­er­ers, which means they should be reg­u­larly dead-headed by cut­ting off the spent bloom to en­sure a suc­ces­sion of new ones through­out the sum­mer.

While roses are one of the high­lights of the June gar­den, there’s plenty go­ing on else­where too. By now radishes, leaves such as let­tuce and spinach and first early new pota­toes will be ready to crop, while seeds sown un­der cover, in­clud­ing toma­toes, aubergines, cu­cum­bers and pep­pers, can be planted out.

It should also be warm enough to sow seeds di­rectly into the soil, in­clud­ing cour­gettes, squash and French beans, and to con­tinue putting in the likes of beet­root, car­rots, peas, spinach and salad leaves to en­sure a suc­ces­sion of har­vests.

The heat and mois­ture that June brings means plants will be putting on plenty of growth over the next few weeks, al­though the gar­den will ben­e­fit from a help­ing hand with the wa­ter­ing can should there be any pro­longed dry spells, with cour­gettes and pump­kins be­ing par­tic­u­larly thirsty plants.

Not enough mois­ture can lead to plants becoming stressed and more at­trac­tive to pests such as black­fly, and it’s also im­por­tant to keep a watch­ful eye for foes such as green­fly, which can be sprayed with di­luted soap; red-shelled lily bee­tles, which can be squished, and, dur­ing wet spells, slugs and snails.

A good mulch of well-rot­ted gar­den waste also comes into its own at this time of year as it pre­vents mois­ture from evap­o­rat­ing too quickly, al­though when ap­ply­ing it’s al­ways wise to wet the sur­face of the soil first.

While it’s great to see fruit and veg­eta­bles putting on lots of growth, it’s in­evitable that weeds will be emerg­ing at an even greater rate: keep a hoe handy to take the tops off of any chancers pok­ing through the soil on sunny days, and leave the de­bris to bake in the sun and act as an ex­tra layer of mulch.

June can be a busy month for the gar­den but it’s es­sen­tial to spend a lit­tle time sim­ply sit­ting back, pos­si­bly with a glass of wine in your hand, and en­joy­ing the warmer tem­per­a­tures and the beauty all around.

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