June is a month of two halves. We start still in spring – I didn’t get around to planting out most of my veg and cut flowers until the first weekend of the month – and finish it most definitely in summer. The allotment finally starts to get productive and the garden goes from politeness to an overgrown sprawl. The long, long days are bookmarked with short sleepless nights (at least they are if you’re a sleep-thief 4 year old), but thankfully we can take it. It’s a month of high energy before we get zapped by the heavy weather of July and August. It’s also the start of event season (I’m working or have worked on three outdoor arts events this month) and I find myself back in the familiar-yet-unfamiliar life of print deadlines, venue dressing and production plans.
I’m not cooking so much at the moment, so there’s real joy when someone else does. This cake table taken in Bushley for the jubilee is a case in point: joy, in cake form. Back home we did manage a little tea, with a little help from our corgi friends at M&S.
May ended at Chelsea Flower Show, which didn’t have the fireworks of previous years. The designs were markedly low impact (I don’t mean that in a bad way), naturalistic, loose, even a bit wild. It’s the kind of designs that look really easy to do but are of course nigh-on impossible to pull off. But I love the toned down shades, the purples, greens, deep dusky pinks, subtle yellows and whites.
A few weeks later I headed to Hidcote, possibly my favourite place on earth, to soak in the glory of an arts and crafts garden in midsummer. Harry came along and to explore this garden maze through his eyes is a fresh joy.
Down on the allotment, we started cropping lupins, alliums and sweet rocket back in late May. The allium christophii is both whopper and winner; some I’m cutting now for the vase and others I’ll dry ready for winter. The lupins are dropping now, but stepping into their place are the dahlias, the first of which are just opening now. There’s filler plants this year too, from cerinthe, ammi and a surprise crop of gypshopila, with its white elegance. It’s still too early for much veg, though we do have broad beans cropping now and the start of the soft fruit (strawberries, redcurrants, black currants). I’ll have a poke about the potatoes later this week…it’s always a surprise to me just how long one has to wait for a veg harvest.
An hour down the road it’s a different story, and I come home from Worcestershire with a basket of raspberries and beetroot from my parents’ patch. Earlier this month I took my Dad foraging for elderflowers down lanes I never knew existed, and we now have three hefty bottles of cordial. (Store them in the freezer and there’s no risk of mould forming.)
It’s in July that things start to get serious: I’ve high hopes for the dahlias this year, having spent a small fortune on new plants, and that’s before we even get onto the chrysanthemums, gladioli, cornflower, courgette, squash, borlotti, French beans, kales, chard, peas… I can see the summer in sight.
Also this month:
Allotment: Planted out most plants first weekend of June, including dahlias and beans. Started off biennials. Tons of strimming and weeding and staking, at home AND allotment…
Harvesting: Strawberries, broad beans, oregano, sweet william, alliums, sweet peas, foxglove, cerinthe, first ammi, last lupins.
Cooking and eating: Fish finger tacos, meringues with homegrown strawberries, chocolate chip cookies, roast apricots, raspberries and blueberries with yoghurt, plenty of rose, bulgur wheat with broad beans and feta, birthday cake
Also: Chelsea Flower Show, Hidcote, Key to the City (Birmingham), Tappin’ In (Birmingham), What’s in Store (Bearwood), play dates and park visits.