COLUMN: Belper gardens open as part of national scheme

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By Kathy Fairweather

Belper Gardening Club

June is the most wonderful month in the garden – the trees have unfurled their fresh and shiny new leaves; flowers are starting to appear in abundance; the birds are feeding their young; insects buzz from one freshly opened flower to another and there’s now plenty to harvest in the veg’ patch.

There really is nothing as pleasing as being in the garden on a sunny day in June!

To keep the gardens looking at their best, here is a list of jobs that should be done within the next few weeks. Prune the early flowering shrubs such forsythia, berberis, lilac, weigela, philadelphus etc now as they form next spring’s flowers during summer.

Stake tall plants; it’s better to stake them early and let them grow through the stakes.

As new shoots grow, tie in and train climbing plants such as honeysuckle, clematis, sweet peas and beans to their supports.

Thin all fruit to prevent branches from breaking; thinning also produces much larger fruits and stresses the trees a lot less.

Start to prune cherries and plums; pruning them in winter could result in silver leaf disease.

Continue to earth up potatoes and harvest the early crop; first earlies should be ready to lift in June and July, when the flowers open or the buds drop.

Second earlies are ready in July/August, maincrops from late August through to October.

Keep your vegetable plot weed free by hoeing; this also aerates the soil.

Don’t forget to top up the slow release food in the veg patch now and to regularly water and feed pot grown fruit and vegetables.

On hot dry days, when watering the greenhouse, water the floor too to prevent red spider mite infestation. Check the leaf axils and the undersides of the leaves on your greenhouse plants for colonies of greenfly and either wash off or squash between your fingers; there is no need to use sprays. Also regularly inspect the bottom of the pots for slugs and snails.

Watch out for red lily beetle and pinch out the tips of broad beans to prevent black fly. Keep a careful watch for vine weevil monsters which will lay eggs in your pots; its grubs will demolish the roots of your plants.

A sign that they are present is the irregular-shaped notches in leaf margins.

There are biological controls available in the form of nematodes.

And finally, when all this work is done, make sure you leave enough time to sit back and enjoy the beauty of your plants and wildlife in your garden.

Also, do go out and visit some of the open gardens in your area.

Whether it’s individual gardens, which open under the National Gardens Scheme, or groups of gardens such as Belper Open Gardens on June 28 and June 29, visiting these is a wonderful way of getting ideas for your own garden, supporting your local community and raising funds for many charities. And the cakes are usually fabulous!

Pictured: Kathy in her Belper back garden.