In the Garden with Gill Pound – June

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After a mild winter and a warm spring the ground will start to be drying out during June, note that a Mediterranean climate has, by definition, a period of summer drought and most parts of the Languedoc experience around 3 months of drought.

It is possible, with careful plant choice, to have a garden which is never irrigated but most people water their gardens, or part of their gardens to some extent. Do remember that recently planted items will need additional water during their first summer.

Be aware that a thorough water every few days is much more effective than frequent light watering, which is often counter-productive since it doesn’t reach the roots at depth and encourages surface roots which are then at risk of drying out. Try to water in the evening when evaporation rates are lower.

Think about water conservation strategies; mulching using chipped bark, shredded garden waste or compost helps to reduce evaporation and helps to keep weeds down and adds organic material to the soil. You can also use mineral mulches such as gravel or Pouzzoulane.

If you don’t already have a system for composting your own vegetable and garden waste think about setting one up – it’s a great source of organic material to improve your soil.

I have some further information about watering and mulches & composts published by the Mediterranean Garden Society and will happily forward these, on request.

During June think about the following:

• Continue to keep an eye out for damage by slugs, snails, insects etc and take appropriate action

• If you are still planting remember to improve the soil in the planting hole with some terreau but also some river sand or gravel to improve drainage. It is also a good idea to fill the planting hole with water and let it drain away – repeat this several times and make sure the plant has had a good soak before planting as well

• If you have any plants with variegated or golden foliage keep an eye out for any wholly green shoots and prune these out immediately

• Deadheading perennials after flowering will often encourage a second flowering spell

• Vigorous climbers such as wisteria and trumpet vines (Campsis) may need some pruning from time to time over the summer

• Cut back dead bulb foliage

• Continue to cut back spring flowering shrubs after flowering

June is the month in which the scented Jasminum officinalis is in flower, a lovely climber which can reach 4 or 5 metres. There are many white flowered, scented jasmines of which J officinalis is the hardiest but one sometimes sees the semi shrubby Jasmin de Grasse (Jasminum grandiflorum) and in the spring the “florist’s jasmine”, J polyanthemum; the latter two are only hardy to around -5°C. There are also shrubby jasmines which are yellow flowered but these aren’t scented, winter jasmine (J nudiflorum) for example or J humile, a summer flowering shrub that makes a fine hedge or back of border plant. There is sometimes confusion between true jasmines (which will have the generic name Jasminum) and other plants which are thought to look like jasmine and are thus given the specific name jasminoides; examples of this include the confusingly named Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), the Potato Vine (Solanum jasminoides) while another lovely climber, Mandevillea laxa, has the common name of Chilean jasmine.