Anna Taylor, owner of Anna’s Flower Farm in Audley End, shares what’s going on in the garden this month
While the first of June is the astronomical beginning of summer, the 21st is both the longest day and the shortest night, marking the meteorological start to summer. The hottest season only feels even shorter by having Midsummer’s Day on
24 June! It is the glorious month of warm, light, long summer days. The garden is bountiful and the grass is lush.
On our plots, the fast work pace of the spring reduces, and the seed sowing slows once we have finished the biennial sowing. Biennials are sown in one year and flower the next, so these mark the end of the seed sowing for this season and the beginning of the flower planning for the following year. We are still pricking out, thinning and planting out new plants for late summer, but we turn to concentrating on weeding, staking, watering and harvesting our flowers at this time.
Being highly scented, they are powerfully evocative
Our biggest and most enjoyable task of the month is to plant out the dahlias. We try to do this in the first few days of June, just after the last possibility of frosts has passed. The dahlias are the pinnacle of the growing year and our biggest crop. Few fail to be wooed by at least one aspect of these flowers, be it the complexities of colours or petal formation. Once out of fashion and banished to the allotment, they are truly back and an easy-to-grow late summer flower. They are hungry growers, and we plant out into richly prepared beds using our favourite ‘double strength’ sheep’s wool soil conditioner, and lay the beer traps we described last month to prevent slugs feasting on new growth.
Meanwhile, we cut the frothy June flowers – roses, larkspur, ammi majus and foxgloves – for weddings, parties and our classes. Other crowd-pleasers are sweet peas. They are loved by so many and, being highly scented, they are powerfully evocative. In fact, nothing makes a garden more sensually pleasing than the scents of sun-warmed flowers. To make the most of the delicacy of scent, you need trees, shrubs and fences to trap scent, together with borders and walls in the sun planted to their fullest.
The best plants for scent are herbs, lavender, rosemary and bay. Their scent will reach out to you, but others such as scented pelargoniums will release their scent if you brush past or pick a leaf. Roses, honeysuckle and jasmine are favourites, and there is always space in a garden for at least one of these, if not all. Sweet peas and tobacco flowers take a little effort to grow but, as with many of the blooms that we grow, the more flowers you cut, the more follow on, allowing you to enjoy heady, delicious scent and beauty in a jug on your tables throughout the summer.
As well as a flower crown workshop at Kettle’s Yard this month (more details on page 19), you can join Anna for a midsummer flower arranging class focusing on roses and annuals on 22 June from 10.30am to 2pm.