This Month in the Garden (June 2020) with Derek Cox

May I first of all say how pleased I was to have Caroline my gardening lady ring me up to say that now she would be able to come once more to do some gardening. It is over a month since she came and although my trees, shrubs, perennials and alpines have put on a lovely show of growth and flowers, so have the weeds which needed to be pulled up, or forked out. At my age I do now find that the ground seems to be a long way down and once I manage to get down, it is even more difficult to get back up. I can manage to do a lot of pruning between waist and head level, but the rest is left to Caroline.

During early May my ‘St George runner beans that are in 50 litre black tree tubs had grown almost to the top of their wigwam of six feet (1.8m) canes so during fine days they were dragged out of my cold greenhouse to harden off. Now they are covered in flowers and we shall be picking beans by the second week in June.

The two tubs of ‘Rocket’ potatoes which I had planted in my cold greenhouse during early March and stood outside by mid May are now ready as new potatoes and it is so good to get your own new potatoes which have a flavour that we never seem to get from those bought in supermarkets.

The borders in my garden give me both colour and flowers throughout the year, but during May and June when my Rhododendrons are in flower I look at them in amazement and wonder how they manage every year to put on such a magnificent show in my sandy loam. ‘Hydon Dawn’, pictured above and close up left, forms a six feet (1.8m) dome of pink flowers and in contrast the pale yellow flowers of ‘Golden Coach, pictured below. Lighten up its dark background. Here I would point out that every year as soon as my Rhododendron flowers have faded I cut them off to prevent them setting seed. After all, they cannot spend energy on producing seed as well as the new growth that will carry the following year’s flowers

From my kitchen window I can see a 40 year old shrub of Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’, pictured right, that is 10 feet (3m)in diameter. This is one of my favourite and the finest golden leaf hardy, evergreen shrub produced. ?Its glossy foliage shines throughout the year and during May it is covered with clusters of small white, orange blossom scented flowers. ‘Ceanothus ‘Pershore Zanzibar’ is another fine plant with golden variegated foliage, I have trained this out on a South facing fence and now, being 30 years old is seven feet (2,1m) both tall and in diameter.

During May this fine shrub produces a glorious mass of blue flowers.

During May and June my large flowering Clematis are in flower and put on a lovely show of white, lavender, blue, pink, or red flowers. Most Clematis do not like hot feet and are better with some form of shade around their roots.

However I do grow Clematis ‘Special Occasions’ on an obelisk in a 12 inch (30cm) square reconstituted container against the North facing wall of my garage. Each flower has seven large petals which have a darker bar down their centre.