I have just been reading my journal from last month, and whilst it was only 4 weeks ago, it feels like it was much longer. I was talking of frosts and tulips and now the garden is a completely different space.
Jute netting supporting cosmos.
Seedlings and dahlias planted last month are on the cusp of flowering. Whilst foxtail lilies and trumpet lilies are a month behind, others are almost a month ahead so I am feeling wildly smug about the variety to cut this year. I have had my best propagating year yet and the warm wet June has contributed to quick establishment and solid growth. The weather, conditions and I have been a great team in 2021!
Snapdragon, cornflowers and calendula, early summer flowers.
We are still gardening to the bio-dynamic calendar but with the heavy rains last week, I didn't get everything planted out. I still have one bed of dahlias to plant out and next spring's wallflowers are labouring in their trays. I won't plant when the soil is too wet but the bonus is that I can still spread my compost as mulch. It's not worth trying to sow now for this summer, after the solstice, rather it’s best to enjoy what we have.
The gardens in June.
The roses are particularly magnificent. We pruned them quite late (as part of the ‘Grow’ course) but this meant they weren’t bothered by the later frosts. The companion planting of garlic seems to have helped the black spot too.
A couple of beds from early summer planting of ridolfia and poppies are almost done, so I will clear these and start thinking about sowing some perennials here and using them as 'nursery' beds to propagate and tend before lifting and moving in the autumn. These beds have a two fold benefit from their proximity to the studio. I walk past them every day so being full of weeds and untended will bother me, but I also notice when they need watering and attention as seedlings develop. It’s a good idea to have plants that need that more care and attention both where you can see and notice them regularly. I think productive gardens are very beautiful so I'd never want a kitchen garden away from the house. You want it near to make it easy to tend and cut from, enticing you out to harvest the good stuff. Why make it difficult for yourself?
We cut the flowers in the cool of the morning, and arrange into buckets late in the evening after their conditioning spa treatment during the day.
Flowers being arranged for a wedding by Cissy this month.
It's been a very busy month for visitors too. We welcomed the 'Grow Your Own' classes onto the plots on some of the hottest days this year. Two classes graduated (but will be coming back for our new annual alumni party this summer) so it was a bit of a celebration. By luck, the plots looked incredible. It was that sweet spot after a bit of rain and cooler weather then sunny days. Anyone that has since come has seen the turn of the gardens, with weed growth and plants going over, like iris and poppies. Don't be fooled by garden photos of perfection, and certainly don't despair if your own doesn't appear to measure up.
Early Summer Classes from our ‘Grow Your Own’ Course.
We were talking about this last night in one of our 'Flower Sessions' at how surprising it is when one grows sweet peas and other annuals, at how fleeting their flowering might be. But rather than be disappointed at them not flowering like a perennial, it makes them all the more special. The tending and effort is sweeter and we really enjoy the flowers knowing that their time is fleeting. The gardens tell a story of this almost every week of the year, but none more loudly than in June. Beds of plants dying back after spring performance, others mid action and a great deal of beds full with the promise of flowers in a few weeks. The joy at growing flowers is never taken for granted, rather I am more miffed when I miss the boat and dither about decisions. Our sweet peas are sad because I left them in the pots and didn't commit to a planting spot and I am already excited about rectifying this next year. Mistakes are quickly forgotten and lessons learned. The year flies around so quickly.
Flowers cut during a ‘Flower Session’ this month.
Finally, we celebrated the launch of 'Standard Flowers' our sister brand exclusively selling our flowers and wedding packages.
We invited our subscription friends to toast the beginning of what we hope to be an exciting journey. We were very lucky that we have friends in special places and Elly Curshen was visiting Cissy and cooked for us. It was seasonal perfection and tasted as good as it looked.
And then on Sunday we had a gorgeous ‘Midsummer Afternoon Tea’ tour and cutting party for the 'Year of Flowers' subscribers. It felt good to reflect on so much and relax.
It definitely gets a bit easier for a few weeks now. After months of seed sowing and planting out, protecting from frost and tying in, there is a bit of a hiatus in July whilst plants establish. I call it the 'disco nap' of the year before the rev up to harvest in August and September. I am really proud of the garden and what we've managed over the last year and I’ll drink to that!