June : clipping and snipping

Suddenly everything in the garden seems to be approaching its full-blown glory.  Following the gratefully received wet spells, the lush greens of spring have filled out into new growth. The wild-flower and ornamental seeds directly sown into the ground will soon be bursting into life.

Some of the hedges are beginning to look very straggly. A good method of getting a clean cut line on an ornamental hedge is to fix two ends of a string line along the proposed cutting height of the hedge. The string can be tied to forks or rake handles that you have wedged into the hedge. Tighten and adjust the string and then use your shears or electric hedge clippers to cut just below the string. Very satisfying it is too.

Remember to cut the sides of the hedge not vertically but with a slight lean inwards. This helps a hedge to keep it's shape by allowing more sunlight to the base and giving the structure more strength.

No time to hang around then and these are some of the jobs on the list:

  • Clip Box, Privet and Honeysuckle Lonicera nitida) hedges but check that there are no little fellas still nesting in there.
  • Prune deciduous Magnolias and evergreen Viburnums to the nearest node or junction.
  • Deutzia, Kolkwitzia, Weigelia and Philadelphus can all be cut back after flowering, taking back the branches which bear the faded blooms and removing any weak or dead stems. (It is useful to note that these all have nearly-hollow stems).
  • Clemetis montana, the vigorous, spring-flowering climber with white or pale pink sometimes fragrant flowers, can also be thinned and cut back, removing dead and diseased stems. 
  • Add fertiliser to struggling or new plants.
  • Tie in climbers and rambling roses before their growth becomes too wild. Likewise, prune and tie back Pyracantha.
  • Cut out the parts of evergreen variegated plants that are beginning to revert to a single colour. This can often happen in Eleagnus and Euonymous shrubs.
  • Keep on top of the weeds by hoeing or the good old method of hand weeding.
  • Stay on top of your lawns by mowing regularly rather than occasionally with a heavy cut. 
  • Keep up with the watering in any dry spells that may re-appear. Maybe think about improving your rain collection with more water butts? I counted SEVEN at a friends house this week!

You can now go out and buy those hanging baskets in the safe knowledge that the frosts are almost certain to be over. I say 'almost' for good reason.

Without stating the blindingly obvious, we are an island and the weather can change in a matter of hours depending on the direction of the wind and whatever is coming to us over the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea.

Never mind that for now: I think my strawberries are about to come good. It must be time to crack open something to celebrate.