My picket fence is covered in 'New Dawn,' 'Darcy Bussell,' 'Teasing Georgia,' and this year's addition, 'Wollerton Old Hall. All are David Austin roses, but the 'New Dawn. The 'New Dawn' is a classic climbing rose. They are spectacular, as is the salvia, Siberian iris, Itoh peony 'Bartzilla' (Heavens! that name), veronica and gaura. So guess what that means? My first June chore is deadheading.
June is the month of deadheading spring's flowers. All those harbingers of sunny days, like roses, peonies, irises and spring blooming bulbs need a haircut. (Don't completely cut back bulb foliage until it has completely turned yellow.) Gaura, both the 'Siskiyou Pink' and 'Whirlilng Butterfiles' re-bloom in late summer if sheared back in mid-June. The second bloom is every bit as showy as the first. Many perennials, like 'Walker's Low' catmint or 'Sweet Kate' spiderwort, will re-bloom, holding color through the season if cut back hard after the initial bloom. Shearing is cutting the plant back to the plant size prior to bloom. Foxgloves will continue to bloom into June and July if deadheaded, as well as roses and spirea.
June is also the time for deadheading and pruning spring flowering shrubs like rhododendrons, mountain laurels, lilacs and azaleas. Wait until after July 4th and you risk the blooms for next season as these set their buds on old wood (this year's growth). If the shrubs don't need pruning, just deadhead for a cleaner shrub.
One chore you'll see every month is weeding, but you knew that. The bad news is there is no easy-peasy solution for getting rid of weeds. Keep mulching, yes, but make a weekly run through of the vegetable garden and ornamental beds with your weeding tool of choice, and stay determined. Now is not the time to coast. Weeds compete with plants for water, nutrients and light (and they're an unsightly mess), so they gotta go. Knowing your weed is the best defense. Burying your head in the sand and refusing to learn about them, not so much. A good place to start is a book that should be as handy as all your other garden books, Weeds of North America.
As the weather warms up, the weekly watering chore increases. Best advice: get a rain gauge. Plants need an inch of water a week in our zone 7a (Asheville proper is 7a, but as the elevation goes up in our mountains, the zone changes from 7 to 6 and 5). Root drenching is what plants want and need. Remember, as gardeners we're taking care of something we can't see, the roots. The job of the roots is to anchor the plant and serve as a conduit bringing water and nutrients to the rest of the plant. Irrigation systems are great, but short of that, soaker hoses work well, especially during drought. Simply wrap them around the drip line of the plants (not the crown) and set your timer. But double check every couple of days to make sure all plants are getting enough water and hand water those that aren't.
4. Succession Sow more Vegetables.
It is time to plant those bush beans, but also time to succession sow (or use transplants) some of the early season crops like lettuces (chose heat-resistant varieties), radishes, carrots, and beets to keep crops coming on. Want pumpkins for Halloween? Plant pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, lima beans, and sweet potatoes now. And, don't forget to fertilize.
5. Summer Bloomers.
If spring was stunning, but the summer garden is missing something, consider summer blooming perennials to spruce up a few spots. Or annuals for all season color. (Yes, the calendar says June 20th is the 1st day of summer, but the gardens are saying, summer is here.) Summer blooming shrubs like Clethra, one the hummingbirds love, is a great choice for summer color. As long as you keep watering, you can keep planting.
But before the chores, the Holiday. Take the day to rest and relax, relishing in the freedoms we Americans have because of the anonymous sacrifices of so many. There is always work to be done in the garden, but there are also days to just enjoy the garden. Chores can sometimes wait, as a wise friend recently advised me.
Happy Memorial Day and thank you to any veterans or active military reading this. Your service is appreciated by BB Barns and we hold you in our hearts.
Written by Cinthia Milner, Garden Coach, OSA, blog writer.
BB Barns serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.