Gardening Tips

June’s in bloom! – Grow-how tips


Ooooh, it’s still pretty chilly, isn’t it! But at least we’ve all seen a bit more of the sun this month. And there are a lot more flowers everywhere – hurray! No resting on our laurels yet though. There are jobs to do, like sharpening up the evergreens, pruning the fruit trees, and dead-heading the rhododendrons for starters………..

The wafty annuals and perennials are really starting to wave in a flowery fashion all over the garden and exciting as it is, there comes a moment when you need something solid to set off all the airy-fairiness.  Laura and I were at Ordnance House near Salisbury in Wiltshire last year (mostly up at the top of very tall ladders – another story🤣 – see our feature pic today) and we were struck how soft planting was punctuated by strong evergreen shapes. You can achieve this solidity with hard landscaping of course, but it can also be achieved with shrubs.

The evergreens are providing structure among the ‘airy-fairies’

Most of us have some evergreen shrubby plants in the garden – things like rosemary, Berberis, Viburnum, box, bay, Pyracantha, Mahonia, Euonymus, Pittosporum,  laurel, Fatsia, Escallonia, Photinia, Griselinia……lots and lots of them!

Start with the usual 3 D’s – take out all the Dead, Diseased or Damaged wood, and then think about what you want your shrub to look like.  For instance, it may have gone rather leggy and sprawly, when your original plan was to have a neater shrub.  Many can take some pretty hard pruning if it’s necessary: look to see if your plant has little shoots coming out of the wood right down inside the plant. 

Pittosporum ‘Irene Patterson’ – A good candidate for a tidy-up

If it does, then it’s a pretty sure bet that you can be fairly brutal with it, if you feel the urge. I have even heard of mahonias, shrubs rather famous for their rangy top-heavy growth, being regularly cut back hard to create very unusual ground cover, but I’ve never tried it myself!  Just be aware that hard pruning will often cause a rush of new strong growth – with some shrubs like Berberis and Osmanthus, it’s really better to give them a light trim each year than go bonkers once every five years.

Sharpening up the wilder excesses of a Euonymus

By sharpening up the outlines of these evergreens now, you will provide an elegant backdrop to the ‘fluffy’ plants.  I know I’m a sentimentalist (it drives my sisters mad), but I always think this summer pruning lets the duller plants join in with the summer fun too!

The apple, pear and plum trees are loaded again with fruit but they’ve also got some vigorous shoot growth.  I want the tree to concentrate on fruit production now, so I’m going to go round cutting back the longest leading shoots to half their length just above a bud. I can keep the tree size reasonable but still give it a framework to make more fruiting stems.

Cut back the leading new shoots on fruit trees to half their length

Sometimes a stem with fruit on it has leafy growth beyond the truss and this need cutting back to a couple of leaves beyond the ripening fruit.  Sideshoots without fruit will need a trim back to about three leaves beyond the base of the new growth.

Take off some of the growth beyond the fruit on an apple tree

I shall thin out any large trusses of fruit and then we’ll be all set for a feast of crunchy apples, juicy pears and plum duffs to come!

  • I grow lots and lots of daylilies (Hemerocallis) because I adore them, but sometimes I come across disfigured buds – they go all fat and corky, and shorter than normal (doesn’t that sound delightful!) This is caused by the Hemerocallis Gall Midge and these buds will never open. There is nothing much you can do about it, so just snap the buds off (they make a satisfying ‘pop’!) and dispose of them.
Hemerocallis Gall Midge causes thickened buds that will not flower
  • Rhododendrons can look a bit of a mess after they have finished flowering, and taking off all the browned flowers can really improve their appearance.  While you are snipping off old flower trusses, look out for the blackened buds that didn’t open – this was caused by a fungal disease called bud blast.  Make sure that you take them off and dispose of them (NOT on the compost heap) to reduce the possibility of infection of more buds next spring.
Take the dead flower-clusters off rhododendrons
  • My roses have gone mad this year, and I hope yours have too – I think they adored the wet spring!  A couple of maintenance things – if you see rolled up leaves, this is caused by the aptly-named leaf-rolling rose sawfly.  The females cleverly secrete a chemical that will roll up the leaves while they are laying their eggs, and the larvae feed inside the protection provided for them.  Try and pick off the affected foliage while there only a few of the blighters, but if masses of leaves are affected, it’s better to leave them on or you’ll do more harm than good by stripping them off.  Also watch out for any unwanted suckers sprouting from the base (they’ll have different leaves to the main bush) and pull them off from the roots before they take over.
The rolled leaves on a rose are caused by a clever little critter called a sawfly…..
  • If you have a shady garden but still want to grow some veg – why don’t you try some chard, lettuce, rocket, spinach and maybe peas? Fruit that tolerates shade includes gooseberries, red- or whitecurrants, and rhubarb.  Chives mint, parsley and sorrel will provide you with herbs. And don’t forget that we have some delightful windowsill pots for herbs in our online shop – perfect for snipping sprigs for summery meals! 
Spinach will grow well in a shady spot

How would you like a rose that has wonderfully healthy foliage and a knockout colour? Do check out the beauty that Louise has found for us by clicking on the photo:

It’s Caroline’s turn to have her garden open for a fabulous event called Strathpetal this weekend, and Laura will be there as well with the3Growbag shop. Find out more in this video, including more about her own garden. And try and get to it if you’re in the Highlands!

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

3 replies on “June’s in bloom! – Grow-how tips”

Great tips for pruning fruiting trees Elaine – thankyou and BEST OF LUCK Caroline and all Strathpetalers with the Open Gardens event. Your garden looks amazing despite the flowering plants that are dragging their heels and if it is raining for you as it is with us in the South East, everything will look all the more beautifully verdant and vibrant. Visitors will probably have no option but to visit Laura in the 3 Growbags shop, too! Have a great weekend.

Ah thank you Yve! I’m pleased to report that L and C have just been in touch and the day has dawned bright and sunny in the Highlands so they are all set for a great day! As I write, I’m sitting in my Normandy greenhouse listening to the rain pelting on the glass, so I’m glad that Strathpeffer is faring better on this important day. The main danger is that people will realise that Caroline IS a gardener after all, and we won’t be able to tease her any longer! Elaine (plus Laura and Caroline, of course)

Just sent a late reminder to my daughter who lives in Dingwall. Unfortunately it’s been raining today so hope they had a good crowd yesterday

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