June is perfect time for pruning and blooming

Published on Thu, May 29, 2008 by Doreen Trudel

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June is perfect time for pruning and blooming

By Doreen Trudel

June is an incredible month in the garden. The plants respond to the warmer weather and we usually have enough rain to maintain a happy garden.

The last of the spring blooms mix with the early summer blossoms blending into a rich tapestry of dazzling colors, exotic fragrance and lush foliage. If you need a reason to take a walk the spectacle of the June garden is the perfect excuse.

Garden design trends come and go just like fashion trends. One year the cottage garden receives all of the press attention and the next year magazines promote stark modernist landscapes of grasses and cacti.

My garden is a hodge-podge of all styles. I stage little vignettes of several styles throughout the garden. Landscape designers would tell me that my garden lacks a cohesive theme or mood.

That is true but I can always find a place in my garden that makes me happy no matter what my mood.

A garden is a very personal creative expression. It should reflect the ideas and desires of the maker so don’t worry if your garden has too many styles. There is always a way to blend our many garden personalities.

In the early 20th century Vita Sackville-West expanded the idea of the single color garden. Her white garden at Sissinghurst in England is world famous. In recent years this idea has been considered boring or drab.

Despite current trends I have planted a mostly white garden off of our back deck where we dine on summer nights. The white flowers glow in the warm twilight like tiny solar lamps adding depth to the darkening scene.

I discovered that pale blue flowers have a similar effect so around the front patio I have planted a mostly blue bed with a few white flowering shrubs.

Of course the rather loud orange Papaver orientale (oriental poppy) and three dwarf Berberis (barberry) shrubs with bright orange berries had to be planted in that blue bed for lack of a bed of their own but I like the striking contrast in the sunlight.

Orange and blue are complimentary colors on the color wheel so they naturally enhance each other when placed together.

The secret to an interesting single color bed is a variety of foliage colors and shapes.
The grey-blue foliage of some grasses and perennials such as Festuca glauca (blue fescue), Stachys byzantina (lamb’s ears), Artemisia, Helichyrsum italicum (curry plant) or Cynara cardunculus (cardoon) add texture and color contrast when planted between the darker green foliage of shrubs such as Viburnam tinus or Buxus (boxwood) or any of the many hardy Geraniums.

The slender bamboo-like foliage of Nandina (heavenly bamboo) adds texture, lime-green color and white flowers.

Acer palmatum ‘Senkaki’ (coral bark maple) is a small tree with mixed green leaves and bright red bark. The red bark is a good background for the white perennial blooms in summer and becomes a feature in the winter garden.

White blooming plants are too numerous to mention. Almost every genus has a species with white flowers. It is best to sit down with your plant encyclopedia for some ideas and then visit the nursery to see what is available.

Blue blooms are a bit more elusive. There are many purple or bluish purple flowers but the selection of true blue flowers is limited. A few plants that I think are more blue than purple are Veronica chamaedrys (germander speedwell), Echium ‘Blue Ball’ (borage), Delphinium ‘Centurion Sky Blue’, Nigella damascena (love-in-a-mist), Agapanthus ‘Lilliput’, Ceratostigma willmottianum (shrubby plumbago), Salvia patens, Campanula poscharskyana, Lithodora diffusa or Corydalis flexuosa and any of the blue Hydrangeas.

This plant lists offers a few suggestions but you could plant a single color bed in your favorite color. Add some plants with varied foliage color, texture and height and your bed will be interesting and very personal.

June Garden Chores

• Prune flowering shrubs such as Deutzia, Kolkwitzia or Philadelphus after flowering, cutting some of the old woody stems close to the ground to encourage new growth.

• Dead head Rhododendrons, Camellias and Syringa (lilac) to encourage next year’s buds. Take care to remove only the spent flowers on Rhododendrons and Camellias as new buds grow from beneath this year’s flowers.

• Papaver orientale (oriental poppy) can be cut back to a few inches above the ground and fed with a little organic fertilizer or compost to encourage new growth and possibly more flowers later in the season.

• Pinch off or cut back fast growing Chrysanthemums for stronger less leggy plants later. Encourage larger flowers by removing buds from clusters leaving only one or two.