What's looking good in June
As mad May segues into a calmer June, the chillies, tomatoes and aubergines are growing away happily in their terracotta pots under glass, most of the vegetables are planted in the Kitchen Garden and now we just have to keep on top of weeds and watering! Yes folks - it's garden maintenance time! Also in June the wild flower swards are on show and they now take up quite a bit of grassland in the gardens so do visit while they're looking good - I spotted orchids this morning on the way to the Sunken Garden.
The rain at the end of May helped to keep the newly planted annuals and tender perennials in the borders in top form; rain is so more effective at refreshing plants than anything that comes out of a hose pipe. It has also set the new growth of climbers at race-pace; their succulent new wands are erupting like fireworks as a consequence. Anne, the border queen, has her work cut out as she keeps her climbing charges under control on the Pergola, House and in the Walled Garden. Do stroll around to see the effect of Anne's training - June is rose time so lots to admire. You'll often find her up a ladder tying in laterals so do say hello as you pass by.
Shaun, the kitchen gardener, has once again whipped the vegetable garden into line - generally we use the end of May as a date for most planting to be in, so there's been a flurry of recent planting activity to meet the deadline. Where necessary, crops are covered or have appropriate training systems erected so that we maximise the effect of the crop but we still battle it out with pigeons over the pea crop. There is plenty for you to see though and plenty of ideas to mimic in your own garden space.
The glasshouse painting team Andy and Alex are making inroads on painting the outside of the tropical and temperate houses. With their new system of scaffolding and wooden sledges they are able to paint the top in relative comfort and I'm looking forward to seeing a gleaming white house emerge like a butterfly from its chrysalis once the scaffolding goes. Then it's on to the house in the north-east corner of the Walled Garden which will receive a similar treatment. Don't forget to come and see the glasshouse displays: fuchsias and pelargoniums are flowering their socks off and my nostalgic sixties themed glasshouse display is buzzing with colour nearby.
We've additional help in the garden in May and June from Aussie Rob and Finnish Minna. Their pairs of hands have helped with the minutiae of time-consuming horticultural activities which are part of a gardener's day and sometimes might be neglected. Tasks like tying in, staking, sweeping, weeding, potting, picking over crops and of course watering. It's great for gardeners be able to pass on their collective skills to the newbies as well as to all our garden volunteers and once trained they become valuable members of our team. Let's shout about our volunteers - they're all wonderful!
Young salad leaves and herbs from the gardens are used by the Gardens Restaurant on a regular basis and this year we are promoting specific crops. In June, it's the turn of Beetroot, 2 June and Soft Fruit, 28 June. If you are tempted to try out the restaurant team's delicious menus using these particular crops, make a note in your diary and come along to enjoy the feast. And before I go, don't forget to purchase your tickets to the West Dean Chilli Fiesta 11-13 August online, early birds save 20% off the ticket price!
Sarah Wain, Garden Supervisor, 1 June 2017