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
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.