FRAGRANCE AND FLAVOUR
PUBLISHED: 10:35 06 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34 01 September 2017
HELLO! June is month of fragrance and flavour. Roses and sweet peas are bursting from their buds and what’s known as the hungry gap’ between the last of the brassicas and the first broad beans is over. Broad beans, steamed and served with chopped bacon and ketchup is my favourite summer treat but no means the only way to serve this versatile crop.
When the pods are pencil thin they’re delicious cooked like mange tout while the leafy tops are lovely wilted in butter. The roses or sweet-peas need no embellishment just keep picking over regularly to remove the spent heads and keep those lovely scented flowers blooming. What better way to spend the long summer evenings than breathing in these delicious flowers. Happy Gardening!
WHAT TO DO NOW
• If black aphids appear on the tops of broad beans don’t spray but snip off the affected leaves and stems and bury in the compost heap. The vigour or yields won’t be affected
• Give flower-filled pots and baskets a weekly dilute feed of balanced’ fertilizer to boost both growth and flower production.
• Keep twine and a few pea-sticks handy to stake flowers that flop over paths. The sooner they’re propped up the better as if left the stems start to curl.
• Feed tomatoes and chillies with high potash liquid tomato fertilizer as soon as the fruit starts to set.
• Pinch off side-shoots from tomatoes.
• Protect swelling fruit from the birds by covering with nets.
• Prune spring flowering shrubs if needed now to give the branches time to regrow their flower buds for next year.
• It’s also time to tackle cherry and plum trees which require pruning when the weather is dry to prevent fungal disease infecting pruning cuts.
Plant of the month
The archetypal flower of allotments and cottage gardens, sweet peas are the best bloom for having your cake and eating it, because the more you pick for indoors the more they will produce. Watering is key to stop these prolific bloomers from running to seed especially in dry weather when leaves can succumb to mildew. A weekly dose with a tomato feed helps too. Providing a support like a wigwam or netting or wires on a fence is essential for those delicate tendrils to get a grip and cover the support. For the best scent choose old-fashioned varieties like Matucana’ or Painted Lady’ though if you want longer-stems for vases, go for modern Spencer types. Being annuals, it’s all over by the autumn when you can sow fresh seed into pots for a repeat performance next summer.
Stone Lane Gardens opens its annual Sculpture Exhibition this month, promoting the work of West Country artists amongst the glades of beautiful birch and alder trees which are sculptures in themselves. Stone Lane is a wonderful, contemplative garden to visit at any time of year with its Klimt-like landscape of peeling birch trunks, in shades of cinnamon, grey and white and it’s always a joy to see what the artists of the region bring to the place. Stone Lane Gardens Sculpture Exhibition opens 11 June, 10am-6pm daily stonelanegardens.com, 01647 231311, dogs on a lead welcome.