June in the Garden: Planting Shady Spots

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June in the Garden: Planting Shady Spots

The start of summer is finally here! June has arrived, and with the recent mix of some gorgeous sunshine and all that rain, everything in the garden is growing fast. We’re at the peak time of year for grass cutting, while those new shoots are growing like mad before it gets too hot, and it’s a good time to be keeping those weeds at bay before summer kicks in fully.

If you’ve done your autumn and winter preparation, you should now be able to sit back a little and enjoy the results of your hard work as those tidy borders and clipped shrubs spring back into life.

Planting shady spots
Shady spots in the garden are some of the hardest to plant successfully. Even plants that are described as tolerating partial shade often don’t thrive in certain spots, and you can be left with unsightly bare borders or weeds. But never fear, we’ve got four great recommendations for herbaceous plants we love that really will do well in shade.

Picture by Kevin McCarthy

Picture by Kevin McCarthy

Hosta
These attractive foliage plants give a lovely array of different shades of green, with a wide choice of leaf shapes and sizes. Once they’ve grown to full size, which takes around five years, they can simply be left to their own devices and will cover shady areas year after year. Hosta are particularly good growers if the area is damp, and they do well in clay soil. But be warned, slugs are very partial to them so you may have to take steps to prevent them being nibbled to nothing.


Picture by Amanda Slater

Picture by Amanda Slater

Ferns
In most woodland areas of UK you’ll see a spread of ferns under trees, and you can use them in similar spots in the garden. Ferns are a classic choice for a shady spot under trees, bringing a touch of the wild forest to your garden with a beautiful array of greens and browns throughout the year. There are many different varieties of fern, and you can pick types that suit your soil and the spot you want to fill, whether it’s dry or damp or has acid or alkaline soil.


Picture by Anja Pietsch

Picture by Anja Pietsch

Lily of the Valley
A really pretty and traditional cottage garden option for a shady spot, Lily of the Valley produces scrolls of bright green foliage and strings of delicate bell-shaped white blossoms that give out a beautiful scent. It’s a great way of bringing colour and light to otherwise dull and shady areas, and they grow particularly well in damp areas, useful if you have a damp pond area you want to plant around.


Picture by Ruth Hartnup

Picture by Ruth Hartnup

Hellebores
Hellebores, commonly known as the Christmas rose or Lenten rose, are perhaps the most obvious solution for a shady spot; they produce pretty blooms in late winter and early spring when there’s not much other colour in the garden. They’re not keen on extremes – very dry or very boggy soil won’t suit them, but they’re happy in shade under trees. To make sure the flowers stay visible, remove older leaves, and you can propagate a plant by dividing and replanting in early spring.


Picture by Toshiyuki IMAI

Picture by Toshiyuki IMAI

Late spring pruning
June is a good time to get shrubby hydrangeas under control, pruning back the branches and dead flower heads from last year to the first healthy buds. Other flowering shrubs like skimmia japonica, mahonia and abelia can also be cut back before flowering in late spring and summer. With all these shrubs, especially on more established bushes, check carefully for birds nesting in the branches before pruning.

Lawn and border care
Our lawns are growing rapidly at the moment, enjoying the mix of wet and warm rain and sun we’ve been having, so it’s time to lower the blades on the mower and give a really good cut. It’s a good idea to give the lawn an iron feed too, which can help stop the grass yellowing in hotter weather. Aftercut lawn feed and conditioner is a good treatment that’s straightforward to use.

When you’re weeding your borders, it’s best if possible to burn or dispose of pulled-up weeds rather than adding to compost, as weeds in compost can re-root and spread seeds back over those areas you just weeded.

Keep an eye on hedging and trees and if you find dead branches cut them out to keep the plant healthy.

Picture by Sarah Sammis

Picture by Sarah Sammis

Fruit and veg
Asparagus is such a delicious treat, especially if you grow your own. If you harvested your crop in April or thereabouts, or have just finished harvesting, now is a good time to feed mature plants with fertilizer.

June is also a good time to put up moth traps in any fruit trees, to keep the moths off the fruit and your crop healthy. Pheromone traps are available from garden centres and online, and can be placed directly in the tree.