Time this year has flown. A look back to last month in the garden…
In addition to other focus’, we spent time setting up more water butts and suitable containers to maximise our use of rainwater going forward. We’ve also continued with ‘No Mow May’ in particular areas – the soft landscaping and habitat for wildlife that this has resulted in is wonderful. Great to see the butterflies, bees, occasional toad and hedgehog, and hear the crickets again.
June began with a Great British Classic – people getting together outside to have picnics and enjoy planned garden parties huddled in coats and jumpers – with umbrellas close at hand! It seems an age away, now in July, with a heatwave: further evidence, according to scientists, of the unequivocal effect of humans warming the earth, the atmosphere, and our oceans.
But equally typical of our climate, as soon as the big weekend was over, the weather turned to a more seasonal norm. I always think, if the weather’s not doing what we want, wait a bit and it’s sure to change!
More Outdoor fun; despite June’s uncertain weather!
The ‘soft landscaping’ we’ve encouraged in the woodland strip, with ‘hidden’, shaded paths through tall spires of bracken has quickly taken shape, and is a perfect backdrop to the camping strip. We rescued a shed from a local garden, and have reinstated it half way along the strip; as ‘Little Acorns’; housing garden games, books and chairs for campers’ use.
Despite the Great British Weather of the Jubilee Bank Holiday(!), we had a wonderful, busy time with campers enjoying exactly what The Queen has emphasised in this, her Platinum Jubilee year: Her ‘Green Canopy’ and ‘Wildflower Meadow’ campaigns beautifully highlight the importance for us all of understanding and appreciating our natural world.
I brought some of the seeds from the ‘wild flowers’ in our garden in London when we moved; as I have always done on the few occasions when I’ve moved home and had to settle into a new garden as it’s guardian.
Those Poppies, Cornflowers, Bugle, Foxgloves and Daisies are at their peak in June. Also shared from previous gardens, Spring’s wonderful waves of blue Forget Me Not are ‘going over’ by June; an important step to complete the circle of their life as their tiny black seeds ripen & fall.
“Since the 1970s, over 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost in the UK. This may have been through the ‘improvement’ of meadows for grazing or silage, for example by resowing, and treatment with fertilisers and herbicides, or through loss to arable crops or development.”Royal Palaces: ‘The importance of Wild Flower Meadows’
Cornflowers self seed easily. Almost wiped out by intensive farming practices and a desire to eradicate them from cornfields, Cornflowers, like Poppies, self seed easily and provide beautiful food sources for beneficial bees, hoverflies and birds (smaller varieties enjoy the seeds). Their open flower heads and easy germination means that one or two flowers can quickly spread to an ocean of vibrant blue (or white, or pink!); a veritable banquet for those insects!
Also called ‘Love in a Mist’, Cornflowers were so named due to the pretty flower heads apparently floating above a mist of feathery green leaves.
Hoverflies are one of the many insects who enjoy the garden in June. They look very similar to wasps, but are different; they ‘hover‘! They also have the ability to fly sideways. They’re great pollinators, their larvae eat aphids, and although they may like a bite of ham from your sandwich, they’re less attracted to sweet things than wasps, so are less likely to disturb your picnic!
Hoverflies also differ from wasps in that they don’t have a ‘waist’; being longer and thinner rather than sharing the wasp’s more shapely thorax and abdomen.
Fruit & Vegetable Gardens
Growth has raced away in the fruit & vegetable gardens: gooseberries, black & red currants, raspberries and rhubarb.
Rhubarb was picked for the final time in June. Lots of stalks remain, but will be left to die on the plant, returning goodness to the base as an investment for next year. It has been wonderfully abundant; rhubarb cheesecake, crumble and compote with the final frozen boxes of last year’s currants have been stars of this year’s season.
Beans, red kale, leeks, onions, carrots, lettuce, chard, courgette, tomatoes and spinach beet have all been planted out. And among other things, I’ve learnt the hard way that broccoli will bolt if the roots get too hot; useful to know!
‘Plants capture energy from the sun and all life on land, directly or indirectly, depends on them. So, ultimately, plants fuel the diversity of life on earth…’David Attenborough