Gardener's Ramblings - June 2017

Brunnera macrophylla in spring garden at Charlecote Park

Stowe Gardener Anna Tolfree gives us an insight into working in this magnificent landscape during the summer, her favourite parts of the garden and the effects of the British weather.

" In June, as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them. "
- Aldo Leopold

How true is this quote for you of June in your own garden?  I think we all strive to have gardens full of beautiful flowers by this month right through to the first cool days of autumn, but it is no easy task.  We sow seeds or plant up new herbaceous plants into our beds, weed, water and sometimes mulch and feed, occasionally we battle with hungry slugs and snails trying to eat our young plants we have so carefully looked after with such diligence as they grow hoping they will produce beautiful displays for us over the coming summer months.   

Geranium Sylvaticum
Geranium Sylvaticum
Geranium Sylvaticum

This for me is the month when I can really start to enjoy all the hard work I have been putting in within the garden, yes there is still weeding to do (there always seems to be weeding to do!  I am sure they hide until I have left and then pop up overnight) and planting up of annuals but the start of the real flowering season has started and I start to notice the wonderful scents of summer.  I notice this especially on warm sunny days when I am in Sleeping Wood with the Scotch rose, its beautiful single pale lemon flowers have a wonderful light fragrance and when mixed with the scent of the Philadelphus is truly lovely.  The plants in Sleeping Wood are all jostling for prime time space with the pure white alliums, the coppery pink of the geums, the bright pink of geraniums and the vivid blue of the forget me nots. 


Then there is the issue of course with water, or rather lack of it.  April for us, as indeed most of the country by the looks of it, was the driest on record with Stowe having only 5.8mm of rain.  This causes us many problems due to the new planting we have done around the gardens.  Ideally new planting is always best completed in autumn when the ground is moist and there is more chance of rain and therefore the plants have more of a chance to settle in over the autumn and winter before they start growing again.  Unfortunately this cannot always happen as areas need to be cleared ready for planting and planting up of a newly restored area is normally the last stage of the restoration.  So for us we have been out watering with a large 1000 litre tank of water around the gardens making sure all the new planting areas are kept watered to ensure they survive.  As gardeners we face many challenges throughout the year and sometimes in the pouring rain trying to weed or realising the slugs have snuck in overnight and destroyed all your new seedlings, it feels like all too much hard work…..but now in June and the preceding months of summer you can sit out and enjoy the garden with vibrant displays of colour and wonderful scents on the air and know that it is worth it, I know I do…

"It is full summer now, the heart of June;

Not yet the sunburnt reapers are astir

Upon the upland meadow where too soon

Rich autumn time, the season's usherer,

Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees,

And see his treasure scattered by the wild and spendthrift breeze."

- Excerpt taken from 'The Garden of Eros' by Oscar Wilde.

Happy Gardening!