In the pink, magenta splatter and purple haze of colour. After the dulcet tints of Spring, the flowers that herald Summer ramp up intensity in colour saturation. Lovely and reliable perennials shine out in June. Candelabra primula comes in jewel bright colours. Geranium ‘Anne Folkard’ packs a punch of magenta. Thalictrum aquilegifolium ‘Thundercloud’ lives up to its name – a cloud of soft mauve. , Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurureum’ has pom-poms of cerise, foxgloves in all the range of pinks and purples. Rose ‘Roseraie de l’hay’ is a sweetly scented deep purple-puce flower and is a good tough shrub, putting up with all sorts of exposed conditions.
Don’t forget: watering seems to be back at the top of the agenda. In spite of the occasional rain shower, the soil can dry out again very quickly. The sun is at its highest in the sky during June, and even when it is cloudy, life is tough, especially for plants in containers. Add some liquid feed in moderation.
Purple patch: time to sow brassicas, for next spring, purple sprouting broccoli, cavalo nero, those rather special things not easily found in the shops. Sow chicory, endive and chard. Repeat sowings of lettuce, radish. Plant peas in root trainers under cover to plant out when the seedlings are robust. Sugar snap and mange tout are well worth growing as they are exceptionally delicious eaten straight from the plant. The shoots and tendrils of pea plants make a great addition to salads, a few of those plus some marigold petals will make a salad something else.
June drop: help out your apple trees, they will naturally shed excess fruit, but thin out small fruits as much as you can.
Thyme to: replant herb containers. Take out mint, thyme, oregano and savoury, divide the plants, throw away old potting compost and give the plants new. Do it now and they will put on plenty of growth for use in the kitchen this season. Continue to plant young parsley plugs, whether you buy or grow from seed. This will keep a succession going, you can never have enough parsley. Cheats basil; buy the larger pots from the super market and divide. You can usually get four decent clumps with good roots, plant on and keep warm and humid with plenty of light but not too much direct sun. I put mine under the tomato plants in the green house.
Cast a clout now May is out: even the most pessimistic among us can assume that frosts will not appear until next winter. So plant out tender annuals and clear the greenhouse/conservatory of tender and house plants, it is time for their summer holiday in the garden.