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Discover articles on garden design, seasonal planting tips for your garden and other news and views from Gillian Goodson Designs.

The arrival of summer

 Embodying sunshine:  Rosa  Molineux  (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Embodying sunshine: Rosa Molineux (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Throw back the covers! Open the curtains! Jump for joy – summer is here! There are predictions for a long, hot summer to rival that of 1976. Whether we remember the summer of ’76 would be telling!

The embodiment of sunshine with beautiful scent to boot is Rosa Molineux = ‘Ausmol’ bred by David Austin and receives glowing praise for its continuous flowering and good disease resistance. Plant a few for impact.

Holding their own in cottage-style and contemporary gardens are the very easy-to-grow oriental poppies. There’s the vibrant orange-red of Papaver orientale. For understated, silky elegance, try P. orientale ‘Patty’s Plum’ first discovered on a compost heap, or P. orientale ‘Royal Wedding’ with white petals and contrasting black blotch centre. They might be fleeting but like summer romances – memorable!

Also for full sun and well-drained soil, and a fabulous way to create movement and sound in the garden is Stipa gigantea (oat grass – reaching up to 2.4m). Give it plenty of space, as it doesn’t like being crowded by other plants and its light, golden-brown oat-like heads will add mystery and magic when backlit by the sun.

Introduced by the Romans and since adopted as a ‘native’; used as a Bach remedy for renewing hope, Castanea sativa (sweet chestnuts) may be associated with winter, however, are in flower this month. Visit the parkland of Burghley House in Stamford, and you’ll not only be treated to the 15cm-long catkins but the fascinating twisted bark on the mature trees.

With the summer solstice is the longest day of the year. Rejoice in 16+ hours of glorious daylight and enjoy open-air theatres, cinemas or a simple barbecue with friends.

It’s safe to plant out tender plants, hang up hanging baskets; thin out carrot and salad seedlings; keep on top of mowing and water during dry spells; remove black spot from roses; cut back herbaceous perennials after first flush to encourage new growth and prune spring-flowering shrubs. If growing from seed is currently outside your comfort zone, then garden centres, nurseries and plant fairs should be over-flowing with a variety of young vegetable plants to get you started.

Be body beautiful whatever your size and shape, or as we say in the plant world, height and spread!