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The garden should be really taking off now. Nice sunny weather with regular rain makes this one of the most exciting months in the garden.
Many tall border plants need support. Have a wander round your flower borders to see if any plants need staking. Many of your late summer flowers can be cut back in late May or early June in order to reduce the eventual height of the plants and reduce the dangers of them flopping over. Asters respond very well to this treatment. This also works well with heleniums. Cut back half the clump and you will extend the flowering time.
Keep a vigilant eye on your lilies now and if you see the bright red lily beetle pick it off and destroy it without further delay. These can reduce lily leaves and flowers to shreds in no time at all. I tend to have a wander round my lilies when it is warm and the lilies are out and visible.
Make sure the base of your roses is clear and not covered in weeds. Sprinkle fertilizer about the base of your rose plants. Look out for and pick off leaves affected by black-spot if the attack is just started. Otherwise you may need to spray. Aphid infestations can be much reduced by rubbing or washing off the aphids. Grow garlic bulbs near your roses to reduce aphid attack.
Now is a good time to sow annual flowers and biennials.
If you have been overwintering your dahlias these should be planted out now that the danger of frost has passed. If you left them in the ground protected by straw or mulch remove this now so that the dahlias can take advantage of the sunshine and start their vigourous growth spurt. Clear away all the straw as otherwise this provides protection for the army of slugs that will be waiting to attack your dahlias!
Young shoots of dahlias can be used to make cuttings in order to increase your dahlia stocks and encourage your parent plant to be nice and bushy at the same time. The same applies to fuschias.
Keep an eye on clematis plants and tie in new shoots if necessary. Clematis montana should be flowering magnificently at the moment. When it has finished flowering it can be pruned back a little if necessary. This is an incredibly vigourous plant and pruning is not necessary except to control growth and tidy up the plant. Once pruned stick a few sections in the ground where you would like new plants as Clematis montana tends to propogate from cuttings much more readily than other clematis.
Keep on weeding!
Many French gardens have box hedging, box balls, box spirals or other box topiary. Box shapes are a great addition to the garden to give structure and to provide winter interest. Give these a trim now to keep in shape.
In the Vegetable Garden
Buy young tomato plants. These can be planted outside in the south of France but in the Uk need a greenhouse or a sunny, sheltered spot.
Plant out cucumbers, peppers and aubergine in a sunny sheltered spot.
Continue to sow salad plants, carrots, spinach and beetroot.
Sow autumn cauliflowers, peas and French beans.
Sow melons, squashes and courgettes. Pumpkins are always a great favourite in France and every year I am disappointed that I did not plant a bigger variety to provide a nice big colourful autumn display. Pumpkins store very well too and are delicious baked or in soup.
Stop harvesting asparagus in June to allow the spears to grow and store up energy for next years crop. The ferny asparagus plants look very decorative in the garden.
Recipes for the Potager
What to do with a glut of Rocket.
If you find you suddenly have a glut of roceket try this delicious recipe:
Cherry tomatoes stuffed with cream of rocket
Stuffed vegetables (farcis) are very popular in france and a great way to introduce more vegetables in your diet.
20 cherry tomatoes
50g rocket and a couple of stalks of basil
1 desertspoon of olive oil
salt and pepper
Rince the tomatoes and cut off the tops to make a small lid (still with the stalk is more attractive). Rince the rocket and basil and put into a food mixer. Add the oil, parmesan and salt and pepper and mix until this forms a thick cream. Spoon this into the tomatoes and replace the lids. Serve on a bed of salad leaves.
What to do in the garden next month