14 June 2022
In your garden, there is probably some light pruning to be done in June. I recommend thinning out new shoots on any trees and shrubs that were pruned in winter, to stimulate growth. Be careful to remove crossing stems and prevent overcrowding of new growth.
It’s a good time to prune your plum or cherry trees. You can also prune out overcrowded or dead stems of evergreen clematis once they have finished flowering, to maintain a good shape. As new shoots grow on twining climbers such as honeysuckle and clematis, they will need to be regularly twined around their supports and tied in with soft ties.
It is also now the time to support all of your tall-growing perennials, such as hollyhocks and delphiniums, with a cane.
If you took part in no-mow May and followed the advice I gave last month about maintaining a wildflower patch, you are hopefully noticing an increase in the number of insects visiting your garden. In turn, this will support birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife.
I highly recommend choosing plants with purple flowers as they are a favourite of bees, which can see the colour purple more clearly than any other colour. Choose lots of lavender, alliums, buddleia, catmint and irises to support the bee population.
At Furzey Gardens, our Bioblitz event on 11th June recorded all of Furzey’s flora and fauna in one day. This includes our amazing trees with their contrasting leaf textures, colours and barks. We are fortunate enough to have some very special trees, including many ancient species, which I would like to share with you this month.
The first in our collection of primitive trees is the Ginkgo biloba (maidenhair or ducks foot). It is the last living species in the order Ginkgoales, which first appeared over 290 million years ago! It is amazingly, more closely related to ferns than other plants, and is the only living connection between ferns and conifers. We have three Gingko trees which I grew from seed 25 years ago. We were so successful in germinating them that we sold several hundred saplings at Winchester market. These are readily available in nurseries, so one to consider for your own garden. If you do plant this tree in the summer months, be sure to water it in well and do not allow the root ball to dry out. In the autumn, you will be rewarded as its leaves will turn a magnificent golden-yellow.
Another tree to consider, if you have space, is the spur-leaf tree – Tetracentron sinense. It is a graceful, spreading, deciduous tree originally from Western China. The wonderful, dark green, heart-shaped leaves with serrated edges are tinged with red and grow on gracefully arching braches. The long flowers are produced on slender catkin-like pendants up to 15cm long. We have two in the Gardens and I’d thoroughly recommend a visit this month to stand against the trunk of one and admire the cascading leaves and flowers, which give the feeling of standing within an arboreal waterfall.
A fascinating prehistoric conifer at Furzey Gardens is the Metasequoia glyptostroboides (dawn redwood) tree. We are fortunate enough to have several of these truly incredible trees which I planted around 22 years ago. Prior to 1941, the species was only known as a fossil. A few years later, small populations were found alive in central China. In 1947, Hua Jingchan collected seeds for the Arnold Arobretum and distributed them worldwide. You will recognise this amazing conifer by its fine, feathery leaves, and very attractive, deeply fissured, red trunk. It is deciduous but very fast-growing. This is not one to plant in the average garden as they grow up to an incredible 3 feet per year. The largest dawn redwood ever recorded was 50 metres tall, so I am very excited to see how tall ours get!
If you have pines, arborvitae, junipers or chamaecyparis conifers at home, this is the perfect month to prune them.
Flowering at Furzey this month is the Cornus kousa chinensis (Chinese dogwood). It is a spectacular, showstopper of a tree. Bushy, with textured bark, it produces tiny green flowers which are surrounded by showy, creamy-white, petal-like bracts which slowly adopt a pinkish hue as they mature. We have one old specimen which was planted in the 1930s. I have successfully geminated seeds and grown several saplings, which are now thriving in the Gardens. Cornus trees are perfect specimens for a smaller garden, especially if you have a sheltered, sunny spot. I recommend improving the soil before planting, by digging in some well-rotted organic matter.
If you are looking for a tree which will be a real talking point, do consider the Acer griseum (paperbark maple). This is another beautiful tree at Furzey, which also originated in China. This tree is almost extinct in wild but is cultivated all over the world, and is available to purchase online. It has a trunk like polished marble beneath peeling, papery, cinnamon-coloured bark. In June, translucent sections of the paper-thin bark peel and curl ornately whilst still attached to the tree. They look fire-like when the sun shines through them. In autumn, it has great scarlet leaves and produces thousands of seeds. Interestingly, very few will be fertile.
Another striking tree is the Stewartia pseudocamellia (deciduous camellia) which has incredibly attractive, multicoloured, flaking bark which exfoliates in strips of grey, orange, soft pink and reddish-brown. It is an amazingly graceful, classy tree and we are very fortunate to have five of them in the Gardens. You can expect to see glamorous, white, camellia-like flowers, which open in random succession from June until August. In the autumn, it will wow us with an amazing display of red, orange and burgundy leaves. It really is a tree that likes to show off and one which I very much enjoy.
If you have any gaps in your planting, our plant sales area is fully stocked this month, so do come and find something striking for your garden. All of the plants are grown in our plant nursery by the people with learning disabilities that we support. We have plants such as Rudbeckia sullivantii goldsturm, Penstemon heavenly blue, Cosmos chocamocha, and Argyranthemum Cornish gold.
As long as you water these in well – hopefully with recycled water from your water butt – they will reward you with vibrant summer colour.
Our cottage garden will soon be bursting with such colour and I hope that you are able to visit us this month to admire these flowers and spend some time with our incredible trees.
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