8 June 2023

Head Gardeners’ tips
June 2023

Owen Griffiths – Head Gardener, Wales

June is a glorious month to be out in the garden. Long daylight hours and perfect weather are a wonderful combination.

I recommend watering early in the morning to prepare your plants for the long hot days ahead, especially in a drought like we’ve had here in South Wales. If you have a greenhouse, the shading should be down during the middle of the day and, as long as it isn’t windy, leave the windows and doors open too.

Think twice before you buy any new plants for the garden. Your soil could be hard to dig into and you’ll be creating a lot of work for yourself with watering. Except for frost-tender plants, I always plant in the autumn so that roots can get established before next summer.

Apart from watering, it’s crucial to control weeds throughout June because they grow and spread so quickly at this time of year. If you feel overwhelmed, remember that weeds are simply plants growing in the wrong place. Focus on tidying one bit at a time and you can let other areas go wild. As a result, you’ll probably notice an increase in wildlife. Stinging nettles, for example, don’t always have the best reputation among gardeners, but they’re a crucial part of the ecosystem for many species of butterflies.

If having wild areas in the garden isn’t your style, try incorporating plants that benefit wildlife. At Horatio’s Garden Wales, our salvias, creeping thistle, poppies, and sweet peas are all covered in pollinators. Leaving logs in the garden also encourages wildlife. For example, stag beetle larvae rely on undisturbed logs so that they can feed until they mature, which can take up to seven years. You can also avoid using chemicals to control pests and diseases. We use biological and organic methods and have a high diversity of plants, so pests and diseases are easier to manage.

By now, spring-flowering plants such as geums and daffodils will have finished, so you can cut them back if you’d like the garden to appear a bit tidier. Deadheading plants like geraniums will encourage a longer blooming period as this will divert the plant’s energy from developing seeds back towards creating more flowers.

There is another approach as well that might be worth experimenting with. To get a second, later flush of flowers, you can cut back herbaceous plants hard. This technique is known as the Chelsea Chop. We do it every year with our valerian for the added benefits of preventing self-seeding and stopping plants from blowing over in the wind. When deadheading, trim flowers down to the end of their flower stalks because this is much better on the eye than seeing a stalk with no flower at the end of it. Similarly, cut stems back down to the base or to a node that will reshoot. This appears much neater and prevents dieback.

June is warm enough for transplanting tender plants from protective environments like a greenhouse into outdoor conditions. If the weather is not favourable, you can place tender plants in a sheltered area for a week to help them acclimatise. We’ve just planted out our dahlias, begonias, and edibles such as tomatoes and basil.

In the vegetable garden, there’s still time to sow fast-growing vegetables and salads. Beetroot can be sown for salad leaves, and sowing carrots in June can yield tender vegetables. Remember to check tomatoes for side-shoots; removing them will improve fruiting. Feed your plants regularly too. We use an organic liquid seaweed fertiliser, but for fruit and flowers, tomorite is really effective.

While there is much to do in the garden during summer, it’s important to take breaks to observe and appreciate nature. I love writing my gardening diary whilst sitting in the sun and listening to the sound of the birds and the bees. I am excited to see the garden developing in the coming months. We’re looking forward to our climbers spreading across the perimeter fence and everyone can’t wait for our apples to ripen. I hope you also enjoy the fruits of your labour and make the most of this beautiful sunshine

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