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June 2014 Newsletter

June Newsletter

June already! Long warm evenings, fresh strawberries, tennis on the telly and dinners outside, bliss!
But it’s not all relaxation of course, the gardening year hots up in more ways than one this month. There are salads to sow and harvest, Flower borders and container displays to tend and shows such as BBC Gardeners’ World June 11th-15th and (if you are quick)- Gardening Scotland May 30th -June 1st to attend.
If you’ve been inspired by the coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show, summer is the ideal time to reappraise your own garden, take photos and make plans. Sometimes all it takes is a new container or hanging basket to give your outside space a new look.
But however busy you are in June, take time out to smell the roses.
Happy Gardening

Pam Richardson

June in the Garden

Treat yourself to some home grown Sweet Corn

Home grown Sweet Corn is a real treat and if you’ve never grown your own, it will be a revelation to find just how sweet a freshly picked and freshly cooked cob can be. The difference is the speed between plot and pot; the sugar in the cobs won’t have time to turn to starch between harvesting and picking!
You can grow Sweet Corn from seed or buy it as young plants, ready to harden off and plant out this month.  Whether you want a large-well filled Sweet Corn cob or a mini Sweet Corn, there are lots to choose from and some such as Britpop can even be used as home grown popcorn!
There are varieties to suit every taste, and any location; and modern breeding means you won’t need to live in the south of the UK to get a good crop. Some F1 Sweet Corn varieties have been specially bred to crop well in colder parts of the UK. Sweet Corn Mirai Picnic is a well filled cob that tastes as good as it looks. Once the young plants have a good root system you can accustom them to outside conditions before planting into their final cropping positions, but only when the risk of frost has passed. If a late frost is forecast, cover the plants with horticultural fleece.

 

Add a touch of the Mediterranean

Whether you prefer traditional English lavenders or the distinctive French lavenders with those tufts of showy bracts; lavenders are evocative plants, conjuring up visions of long hot days and Mediterranean landscapes.
Lavenders have spikes of nectar rich flowers with a magnificent scent that attracts pollinators as well as us! Lavenders make a brilliant hedge or use them to plant in front of roses; the bushy stems help to disguise the roses' bare legs!

If you have a hot dry spot in the garden lavenders will thrive once established, but give young plants a thorough weekly water to settle them in and help them establish quickly. Once they are established all you need to do by way of maintenance is keep them weed free and prune out spent flowers.
Trim the spent stems to within a couple of centimetres of the main plant as soon as they fade. Do this every season and don’t cut into old wood because this may not resprout if plants are allowed to get woody.

Plant Beans

If you haven’t grown your own runner or French beans from seed don’t worry; you can still buy young plants and they are ideal to plant out now while soil is warmer and frosts are not a risk.
Old favourites such as St George, White Lady and Scarlet Emperor are customer favourites but so are the new self pollinating runner beans such as Firestorm and Stardust. These new generation runner beans give masses of tender beans on vigorous plants that set pods whatever the weather, what’s not to like! Some runner beans are pretty enough to grow in the flower borders, their flowers come in red, white and shades of coral pink.
French beans are daintier plants so they are ideal for plots where space is at a premium. Dwarf French beans can be grown in the tiniest plot. You don’t have to stick to green pods either, there are decorative and tasty varieties of French beans with purple or golden pods.

Wage war on slugs and snails

2013 saw one of the warmest, wettest winters on record, great for over wintering tender plants in the garden but slugs and snails also thrived in the mild conditions. Across the UK there seems to have been a mollusc explosion in our gardens and it’s time for action!
Luckily there are plenty of ways of getting rid of slugs and snails. From the organic methods such as beer traps, copper rings and eggshells, or products such as Eraza slug pellets and Grazers that protect plants from molluscs above ground ; to nematodes that give weeks of protection and kill slugs that live underground too. Whatever you use there is still plenty of rain falling and with young plants ready to plant, it’s imperative to act fast, don’t let slugs and snails make a tasty snack of your plants and seedlings!

Stock up with perennials

Add some flower power with first year flowering perennials. You’ll have seen masses of must have perennials at Chelsea and if like me you’re a plantaholic then you won’t need an excuse to buy great value, gorgeous perennial plants!

Delphiniums are among my all time favourites, they give that elegant but English country charm to a planting scheme. I also can’t wait to try Echinacea Double Scoop Raspberry a delicious looking Echinacea that will fit in with a formal, or a natural planting scheme. Thalictrum aquilegiifolium is new in our catalogue and on the website and I love its clouds of fluffy lavender purple flowers. I’m pretty certain I’ll be planting a new perennial or two this month!

If your garden needs something a bit more substantial look at our mature shrubs, available in 3 litre pots they’ll add some instant impact in containers and in the border.

 

 

Tips for the garden...

Pick the right position for your sun loving crops

When deciding where to grow sweet corn always choose the sunniest site possible, because it’s a real sun lover.  The plants eventually become very tall so site them at the back of a vegetable plot where they can’t shade other crops and don’t grow different varieties of sweet corn near to each other because they can cross pollinate.
Sweet corn is wind pollinated so plant it in blocks rather than rows. This allows pollen from the flowers to fall within the block rather than just get blown away.
Harvest the cobs in August- September when the silks on the cob turn dark brown that shows they are ready to pick.

Go wild and help pollinators!

If you have a part of the garden that could be less formal, maybe surrounded by grass or fringed with trees, help our bees and butterflies by replicating their wild habitat. That doesn’t mean you have to do without flowers and make do with weeds though, just choose a mix of native plants and cup-shaped open flowers that are easy for insects to land on, and with nectar that is readily available. Their are plenty of pollinator friendly plants to choose from.
Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing is a cultivated form of designer cow parsley, it features in lots of show gardens as do plants such as foxgloves (digitalis). They both attract bees and insects as well as conjuring up that English country garden look!
Buddlejas are well named as butterfly bushes; they are smothered in bees, butterflies and even nectar seeking moths! Another moth favourite is penstemon.
The Hummingbird hawk moth can sometimes be spotted hovering around these pretty perennial plants. Last June was hotter than normal and several visited our garden, it was exciting to see this tiny moth hovering in front of its chosen flowers and looking exactly like a miniature hummingbird!
The orange tip butterfly has been in gardens since last month and is always one of the first butterflies to pay us a visit.

Put out hanging baskets

In most parts of the UK it should be safe to get your hanging baskets, patio containers and tender bedding plants put outside permanently. If you’ve already planted up your containers the plants should have bushed out nicely by now.  Keep containers watered in dry weather and site them carefully, avoid windy locations and hang them securely. A full basket with wet compost is very heavy! Keep pinching out the tips of any straggly plants to encourage lots of branching stems that will carry plenty of flowers.
If you still haven’t managed to get your container and bedding displays organised there is still time to get a brilliant summer container display with our ready-designed basket and container mixes. Choose from our fabulous mixtures, each one is a unique blend of plants grown by expert plantsmen.

Feed Plants

Warm, wet soil encourages strong roots and healthy growth; plants also take up nutrients very quickly at this time of year so it’s an ideal time to give plants a boost with some feed.
Anything that feeds the soil as well as the plants is a bonus while growth is at its strongest.
Most commercial multipurpose compost has added feed that lasts for several weeks but once plants are growing strongly all flowering and fruiting plants will need a boost, especially those grown in containers. Aim to feed roughly every week adding food when you water your container plants. Adding slow release fertiliser and water saving crystals to the compost when you plant is a good idea.
A high potassium feed encourages flowers and fruit so it  is ideal for tomatoes, in fact tomato food is a useful all round feed for most summer flowering container plants.
Seaweed is also a great natural fertiliser that benefits all kinds of plants from edible crops to ornamentals. It’s the magic ingredient in Bio-Gro Black Gold and in the Bio-Gro Plant Invigorator.
Invest in improving the soil and plants will romp away with increased health and vigour. The healthier the plant the more able it is to shrug off pests and combat disease, not to mention added flower power!
If you’re growing roses they’ll really benefit from a specialised rose feed for bigger, better blooms and disease resistance.

 

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