June departed seeing me finishing the RHS L2 in Practical Horticulture.  I am now playing the waiting game to see if I passed.  The first of my free Saturdays involved a trip to Kew Gardens in London so the month had a special start.

As my weekends have been freed up I have been able to spend more time in my own garden putting into practice some of what I have learn't.

The seed collection cycle has already begun, with Lupins, Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing' and Angelica archangelica  to start.

As the month has progressed the garden has increased in lushness and colour, plants are noticeably much larger than they were a year ago, filling much more of the space and softening the straight lines of the boundaries.  This is evident in the shady border with the Acanthus spinosus really filling out with giant foliage and multiple flower spikes - more than ever.  

The common and Russian valerians grown from seed are enormous and I anticipate  these will self-seed too, fingers crossed.  The Eupatorium maculatum 'Riesenschirm' is beginning to bloom and works well with the height of the valerian.  I look forward to the deep red/purple to become more evident.  These attract lots of butterflies to the garden.  The Rosa 'Climbing Iceberg' responded well to its spring pruning, manure mulch and specialist feed and has been tied-in several times as its growth spurts upwards and outwards.  

The original scattering of Verbena bonariensis has done extremely well this year - over 6ft in height in places and is another welcome self-seeder. 

The sunny border that I designed and planted up last year looks great.  Even with meticulous planning It is difficult to judge which plants will do well and those not so much.  Gardening can be so unpredictable at times but that adds to the joy and the challenge.  I feel that this border evidently needs more work, plants will benefit from being divided and spaced out a bit more, perhaps I can relocate some of them in other areas.  The addition of something tall, red and spiky may be beneficial to break up the pastels - suggestions welcome!

The Wildlife Pond has had a good weeding of the borders, the stinging nettles will be put to good use this year for a change.  I've spotted several tiny frogs emerging into the wider garden.  As well as pond snails, water boatmen and the usual population of bright blue and red Damselflies dancing above the water. 

Spot the difference after 3 hours of weeding and trying not to fall in:

In a month of firsts I went into the garden and actually relaxed as had no urgent jobs to complete, I also picked some flowers for the table centre-piece as we had a family BBQ mid-month.  Additionally I also explored my crafty side by pressing some flora favourites, something I have just repeated again...

I have also used my new found knowledge to make Nettle Compost Tea...having already experienced Comfrey Compost Tea at Hort School I am aware that I am in for a smelly treat when it has brewed.  But I  know this is a good organic alternative to aphid control so its win win in my view as I continue to avoid chemical use!

The garden will see much more social use this year, what a delightful spot to chill.


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