Pete’s garden jobs for the month

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In June, the garden really begins to bloom, says Pete Harcom. There are maintenance jobs to be done – but don’t forget to sit and enjoy it too!
The hot, dry conditions caused by direct sunlight coming through greenhouse glass in spring and summer can scorch plant leaves, encourage pests such as red spider mite and lead to the patchy ripening of greenhouse crops such and tomatoes and peppers. Greenhouse shade paint is easy to apply to the outside of the glass as and when you need it. It’s shower resistant and effective, but remember to wash it off again towards the end of the season.

June should be a month of calmer and warmer weather. Flowers in bloom now will include lonicera (honeysuckle), potentilla, iris, dianthus, astilbe, cistus, roses, early clematis, sweet peas (if you started them early), geraniums, weigela and wisteria to name a few. If you want a quick boost to an empty bed, now’s a great time for a visit to a garden centre to pick up some instant colour. The garden will be vigorously growing now, so here are just a few ideas to help keep on top of things …

In the greenhouse
Use blinds or shade cloth or apply shade paint on the external side of greenhouse glass to prevent overheating. Remember to open vents and doors on warm days – automatic window openers are a real bonus at this time of year.

Weeding
Now is the time to get into beds and hoe and/or hand pick annual weeds before they get out of hand. Keep deadheading (particularly roses) to remove faded blooms and help continue their display.

Planting
Plant out summer bedding, including potting-up hanging baskets. This is probably the last chance to plant shrubs, as the soil will be heating up now. Ensure you water them well and monitor. If your garden has a south-facing area this may be a time to consider growing some plants from warmer climates – agapanthus, evergreen jasmine (trachelospernum jasminoides), stone pine (pine nut trees), or perhaps Italian privet (ligustrum) and Mediterranean fan palms.

In Greek mythology, Iris was a messenger from the gods who travelled to earth on a rainbow. Wherever she stepped, flowers sprang up. Iris means rainbow; appropriate when bearded iris comes in colours from pure white to purple/black, and nearly every color in between.

Cuttings
Now is the perfect time to take softwood cuttings of many shrubs, including lavender, fuchsia, philadelphus and forsythia. Collect healthy shoots from the tips of plants and make 5-10cm long cuttings. Slice through the stem below a pair of leaves and remove the lower set of leaves. Simply push into a small pot filled with gritty cutting compost and place in a shady part of the greenhouse or a windowsill propagator until rooted.

Sowing
Start sowing perennials and biennials such as wallflowers and sweet williams for flowering next spring and summer. Sow seeds of polyanthus and winter pansies in trays, cover with vermiculite and place in an unheated propagator. You can then plant out into their flowering positions in autumn.

Watering and feeding
Feed fuchsias, petunias and any other flowering pot plants once a week to boost flowering. Use a high potash liquid tomato feed, and start once you notice flower buds forming; continue though to the autumn when the plants run out of steam.

by Pete Harcom at Sherton Abbas Gardening

Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre

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