Alex’ June Ramblings

Well, at last we have had some good growing weather! I hope it has encouraged everyone to get out into the garden to try and make up for lost time.

I have just returned from a trip to the Loire Valley in France where the daily temperatures have been remarkably high. The Loire Valley is a very productive area gardening wise and I took the opportunity to visit a number of gardens attached to chateaux. They ranged from the very formal at Villandry to the fanciful at Rivau. This was my second visit to the Loire and the thing that is most apparent since visiting some thirty years ago is a move to organic regimes. Bug hotels were to be seen in most locations visited and site publicity material indicated since the introduction of organic regimes, crops had become healthier, natural predators increased and spending on chemicals vastly reduced. All the gardens visited were staffed by professional gardeners and it was very heartening to witness the move away from inorganic methods.

At home, the end of May seems to be typified by warm, muggy days. Ideal for growing if uncomfortable to work in. Things are starting to look a bit more encouraging in the garden. Everything seems to have taken on a fresh vibrant green hue; a sign that we are moving into the peak growing season.  In my vegetable plot I have managed to get sweet corn and Brussels sprouts planted. Broad beans are flowering. Onions and shallots are making good progress. My first sowing of French and broad beans are showing as are early carrots. The plot is looking very tidy at the moment and all that will be required is a gentle hoeing from time to time to keep the weeds down. In the greenhouse, shading has been installed; tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and chillies are all potted up.  From now on it is just a matter of keeping them well watered and fed while remembering to pinch out the side shoots of the tomatoes.

As for the ornamental garden, general tidying up is still in progress with herbaceous perennials being thinned and divided as necessary. The sweet peas are now well established. Rose are starting to bloom and judicious pruning will ensure a continuation of their fine display throughout the summer and autumn. Those of you who are growing dahlias and chrysanthemums for the annual flower show will be ready to plant your specimens out now that the chance of a late frost has hopefully disappeared. Gaps in the boarders should be filled with your previously sown or even, bought in flower specimens.

No doubt, all of you are eagerly looking forward to the publication of the show schedule so that you can outline in your mind what you will wish to enter. I find that however much you plan there will always be surprises. Some things you are banking on don’t do as well as expected and vice versa. Gardening is at times such an unpredictable hobby. I find that’s one of its great attractions.

Happy gardening,