June is in Bloom…and…Let’s Prune

June is in Bloom…and…Let’s Prune

June is here and the gardens are lush and abundant. The succession of bloom in our landscapes is gradually transitioning to a new palette- bearded irises, yarrows, Lupines, Baptisias, poppies, and peonies are now the stars of the show. Most of us obsessed food gardeners are already feasting on salads of lettuce, spinach, arugula, and radishes. Many of you already have your tomatoes in the ground

We have ALL kinds of basil. Thai basil has deep purple flowers- it’s ornamental
and edible…

but not me! I was so completely exhausted over the weekend, and my yard was such a mess, that all I could do was weed and prepareto plant the carloads of plants that now sit in my driveway. The rain on Mondayforced me to sleep late, a true blessing. My staff had the holiday off and now we are back at it again. We are restocking our veggies- LOTS more basil, some more tomatoes, and a little bit of everything else. Keep on planting! My 15 raised beds often don’t get their first round of warm season plants installed until the summer solstice. Then, I continue to plant beans, carrots, summer squash, melons, and cucumbers from seed well into July. At that time I begin with the cool season planting for fall crops. Memorial Day used to be the big push to get everything planted. NOT ANY MORE. Wise gardeners that want to harvest the most out of their gardens do succession cropping.

Don’t kid yourself- your tomato plants may look tiny but they will soon be GIGANTIC. We use these wonderful heavy-duty tomato cages and THEN we add a strong oak stake. Set it up now and your tomatoes will be very happy and easy to prune and harvest all summer long.
You should see my blueberry plants this year! They are absolutely dripping with unripe fruit. We restocked our blueberry plants again- they have to be the easiest fruit crop you can grow. They are native to CT; plant three different

kinds to extend the season like I do. The raspberries are also forming on my canes and my strawberries are beginning to change color, too slowly for my husband’s taste I must say.

What’s fun about our Incredible Edibles department is the amazing diversity of food plants that we carry. The tomatoes alone blow my mind: ‘Fargo Yellow Pear’, Copia (delicious striped yellow and red), dark purple ‘Indigo Rose’, even ‘Great White’, an heirloom pale yellow tomato with

a rich flavor. We have ‘Long Island Cheese’ pumpkins, lilac and white striped ‘Rosa Bianca’ eggplants, hops, edible fig trees, edible marigolds, wasabi plants, even salsify (called the oyster plant).

June is prime time for flowers and Natureworks is filled to overflowing with beautiful roses, perennials, and unusual annuals. Every morning when I arrive I walk the gardens and the benches to see what’s coming into bloom. This week I can’t stop smelling the roses. We have ‘Pretty Lady’, a classic that we haven’t stocked in years and ‘Frances Meilland’, from the premier French breeder Jacques Mouchotte. I rarely stock hybrid teas because they are so prone to disease; this variety is exceptionally clean and OH so fragrant. What can you plant to compliment roses? Veronicas and Salvias are good choices as the vertical spikes compliment the full petaled roses. Baby’s breath will surround

Spikes of perennial Veronicas make a nice contrast to roses and other soft flowers such as the Lychnis shown above. 

your roses with a cloud of misty white flowers. Delphiniums are classic rose companions. I hope to see a lot of them when I visit England next month. There is an entire book written about weaving roses and clematis together. I actually do that in my own garden and it is an enchanting effect.

This week, the highlight of our native plant bench is  Chionanthus virginicus, the fringe tree. You know a plant is great when the entire staff of Natureworks is asked to vote on a new tree for our shade garden (so little space for trees, we do this democratically) and the fringe

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’

tree is what we picked! The flowers are so unusual, dangling clusters of delicate white, fragrant flowers followed by blue berries that feed the birds. Because it only grows 12-20′ tall, it is a good choice for smaller properties- like ours. Another wonderful native that is blooming in our demonstration gardens is Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’. Baptisias are legumes and are just so easy. They fix nitrogen from the air (meaning they feed themselves) and are drought tolerant. We have a few unusual new compact varieties arriving in a shipment this week: ‘Lemon Meringue’ and ‘Pink Truffles’, the result of years of breeding on this valuable garden plant. Mountain mints, all kinds of Echinaceas, late blooming asters for fall pollinators, sweet fern, blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium), and the drama queen Rudbeckia maxima all are ready to make a home in your garden.

The unusual, fragrant flowers of our native fringe tree.
Along with the abundance of blossoms comes abundance of another kind- pests! Diane has asked me to concentrate on a few pests that everyone has been asking about in the past week. I focused on a few of them in the article below.
We are still enjoying so many bulbs in the Natureworks gardens. Alliums and Camassias are peaking right now. If you haven’t had luck getting your Alliums to come back, check the brief article on caring for them that I wrote below.
Here is what I will be teaching on Thursday evening andSaturday morning: this Joe Pye weed was pinched three times. It will flower three times longer than an unpinched plant. You can see the buds at various stages of development.
This Thursday evening, and again on Saturday morning, I will be leading very informative garden walks, teaching you how to pinch back your perennials to double their bloom time AND reduce staking chores. These techniques are the key to our long blooming and repeat blooming gardens in summer and fall. Timing is EVERYTHING- you must do this in June. When I first learned how to do this, I taught my staff and let me tell you, it has changed the way we care for gardens.
Planting, feeding, pinching, pruning, and planting some more. June is probably the prettiest month of the year, the days and weeks we have all been waiting for. Take advantage of every single second you can spend outdoors in your yard. Every once in a while, stop and look up. You may just see a hummingbird nectaring on a flower or a butterfly stopping to lay it’s eggs. Share your bounty of spring veggies and cut flowers with your neighbors and friends. Share your love of gardening with everyone you know. We are so lucky to be gardeners right now!
Make some time to come and visit. I’ll see you very soon…