June arrived in the midst of another drought. The ground cracked, pots parched, leaves scorched and water butts ran dry. It felt like mission impossible to keep plants limping through this period. Literally every drop was precious. And then came the rain! By complete contrast the skies opened and released a deluge which was a welcomed relief all round.
As June slips in to July we are all getting to grips with our new, slightly relaxed, lockdown lives. These passed few months have been challenging. We have seen our lives become more focussed on our immediate surrounding area and we have all learnt to appreciate the natural world around us far more than ever before, taking comfort from the security of its continuing circle of life, business as usual for nature, life goes on regardless of our troubles.
Everyday whilst gardening I have been amazed and surprised at the wonderful wildlife right under my nose. Here are some of the highlights... makes you wonder what else was hiding in the undergrowth? The grass snake was actually a couple of years ago but I couldn't resist including.
Click the photos to enlarge and view insect ID.
As we move into summer a top priority is watering. Pots are particularly vulnerable in hot weather as plants cannot push their roots deeper into the ground to search out water supplies, so keep on it. Move pots to a shadier part of the garden to try and reduce scorching from direct sunlight.
Conserve or recycle any water you can, from cooking or cooled down unused kettle water.
The best time to water is early morning or evening when the temperatures are lower and you won't risk leaf scorch with accidental spills or water waste through evaporation. Ideally use rainwater as tap water contains chlorine but as water butts run dry, we cannot afford to be fussy, use whatever is available.
Feed, feed, feed. Flowering and fruiting plants are working overtime now. As long as the plants are watered, they will be able to absorb the nutrients.
Put some of your weeds to good use – make homemade nettle compost tea; high in nitrogen, great for new shoots. Make homemade Comfrey compost tea, high in potassium to encourage flowers and fruits or I also use organic seaweed.
I always keep an area of nettles at the back of my garden. It provides excellent habitat for caterpillars, moths and snails as well as being a constant supply for nettle tea.
Remember to keep bird baths topped up and put out a shallow dish with a stone in or something raised as a landing pad for bees. They need to drink too.
Many gardening jobs span the summer but the main mantra is water, water, water!
Refresh pots and create colourful new hanging baskets with Pelargoniums, Begonias, Dichondra silver falls, Hedra helix gold trailing (Ivy), Nepeta trailing, Petunias trailing, Nasturium, strawberries and succulents to name a few. Seek out drought resistant plants - this will help your displays survive heatwaves and holidays.
With the summer holidays fast approaching I would normally suggest asking a friendly neighbour if they can do a little watering for you if you are away. Always unfortunate that most gardens are climaxing around August during the holidays when people are traditionally away... but who knows what this summer holds? We could all feasibly be enjoying a staycation and making the most of being at home.
Plant out summer bedding and homegrown seedlings that have matured. I am sure by now you have made space in the greenhouse by moving plants to their final home for the year.
Deadhead roses, peonies, pinks, geum… stop summer flowering plants going to seed to prolong flowering period and promote more buds developing.