1 June 2012 - 3:07pm

What is the 'June gap' and how can we fill it?

When gardeners talk about the ‘June gap’ I am a bit puzzled. If you have a reasonable range of bulbs, perennials and shrubs in your garden, you should have some colour throughout the spring and summer months, shouldn’t you? I’m guessing that the phrase came from a Local Authority Parks Department that relied solely on bedding plants to provide a good display; when the polyanthus and tulips are over they get ripped out to make space for the geraniums and lobelia that don’t start to spread and look decent for at least a month.

Not that I dislike so-called bedding plants, even in a more natural garden border setting. If you pop them in gentle drifts in the gaps in your borders they look lovely. This year I’ve grown cosmos, which are really easy to grow from seed; last year it was tobacco plants. Their huge advantage is that, if you deadhead and give them a little feed, they will flower from late spring until Christmas if the weather stays reasonably mild. I love my herbaceous perennials, but very few of them are in flower for more than a couple of months.

One perennial at its best at Charnwood in June is the Delphinium. Its name has an exotic origin, ‘delphis’ is Greek for dolphin, which describes the shape of the flowers. My favourite is D. 'Black Knight' with dark, purpley blue flowers. You can get pink and white ones too, but that is tampering with nature for me. Delphiniums like rich fertile well drained soil so I dig plenty of compost into our borders and they grow well. If you cut them down hard immediately after flowering, pop in a cosmos to fill the gap for a bit and give them a feed and water; they will flower again in September. Put a cane in for support around April and watch out for slugs, especially when they emerge in spring. The best place to get well grown delphiniums locally and at a reasonable price is Moores on the Melton Road.

Many thanks to those of you who came to our open garden last month. We had 273 visitors and made over £1100 for charity. People even came in the rain on the BH Monday – gardeners are such generous and hardy folk! Thank you, too, to the Tollerton resident who wrote so eloquently in praise of this column in a letter in last month’s newsletter. If s/he would like to see lily beetles ‘in action’, feel free to pay us a call at ‘Charnwood’. And if the Parish Council would like a more colourful (but possibly less accurate) write up of one of their meetings I would be happy to oblige!

Don’t forget the Garden Club plant stall at the Village Event, it is always really good and excellent value for money. I will be selling my books at the event to, based on this column and beautifully illustrated by Kevin Pyke’s photos. There are more details about that and our next garden study day here on 7 July on the website; we regularly post a blog and pictures of Charnwood too. Don’t forget to appreciate your garden this summer: we work hard all year to make it look good, so take the time out to enjoy it!