June! The longest days and the shortest nights. Of perfect borders, well behaved plants, and frost free nights. June, the month when we can all consider ourselves excellent gardeners - up there with the best, diviners of life, charmers of all things green. Everything is at its verdant prime, plant cells at their optimum load, and carefully placed plants standing perfectly erect; totems to your gardening prowess.
But be warned, there’s sarcasm in that last paragraph- very quickly things can come crashing down both physically and emotionally. The flush of spring and early summer growth can suddenly be overcome by dusty dry borders, and collapsing perennials. If you failed to stake, cut back, or Chelsea Chop last month the start of June is your last chance to take matters into hand before nature takes the lead. ‘You should have been here last month’ will be the first apologetic words to leave your lips as visitors step into your garden. Soil temperatures are now at around 15 degrees and combined with a wet June can exacerbate the situation by promoting further growth. Rainfall during June though is variable and it’s traditionally the sunniest of the twelve months.
The Anglo-Saxons referred to June as Aerra Litha or First Summer, but the name we use today comes from Juno, Queen of the Roman gods, a name with Latin roots referring to fertility and vital energy.
Celebrations in June include the wonderfully eccentric Wormcharming championships in Cheshire, the glorious Trooping of the Colour to celebrate the Queens birthday, and the summer solstice, where the rising sun is eagerly awaited and observed in ancient locations such as Stonehenge, Glastonbury Tor or the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire.
Gardeners Beth Chatto, Carol Klein and Landscape Designer Charles Jencks were all June babies.