What song immediately takes you back to a previous summer? A song that makes you turn up the volume, throw open the windows and invite the summer in. If out driving, wind that window down, let fresh air blow on your face, mess up your hair and laugh out loud. That carefree moment to me embodies June and the start of summer!
There are fewer trees in flower now. One species that will be vivid in early June are Laburnums. All parts are toxic, especially the seedpods. Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ has fewer pods and a profusion of yellow flowers. Watching its dense racemes dangling in the breeze is like watching oriental wind chimes playing an unnamed tune.
An eye-catching combination, made famous by the much-loved English garden designer Rosemary Verey, is Laburnum underplanted with purple alliums as in her Laburnum walk (or tunnel). Whether you are looking to recreate such a dazzling effect in your garden or simply to plant them elsewhere, summer bulb, Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ with its rich purple globe-shaped heads would be a stunning choice for adding shape and colour depth.
You are spoilt for choice with June- flowering shrubs. Philadelphus ‘Belle Étoile’ (mock orange) is a deliciously scented, compact shrub with single white flowers and flushed maroon centres. Enjoy its heady fragrance while sitting outside on a summer’s evening. Consider growing a late-flowering Clematis through its branches to extend seasonal interest.
For statuesque, architectural magnificence try Cynara cardunculus (cardoon) in a sunny sheltered border. Give this herbaceous perennial space to spread its arching, deeply cut silver-green leaves. In late summer, it has thistle-like flowers, which are attractive to insects but will also provide sculptural interest over winter.
If you enjoy propagating then now is the time to take softwood cuttings. It is also a safe time to prune spring-flowering shrubs and remove suckers from roses. It’s time to harvest those early potatoes, asparagus, lettuce other salads and sow new ones! Also a great time to sow beetroot, chard, quick-growing varieties of cabbage, broc-coli, courgettes, squash and pumpkins.
Keep on top of the deadheading and don’t forget to water during dry spells. Lawns will need regular mowing and new lawns will need feeding. Be on the lookout for vine weevils in your containers!
Remember the old rhyme: Oak before ash…in for a splash; Ash before oak…in for a soak. So what sort of summer awaits us? While you ponder which came into leaf first, enjoy those magical long summer days and pink-sky evenings…