Wallowing in the June Gap

We are in the midst of a period known to gardeners and beekeepers as the June Gap. Both of our gardens have become a sea of green, caught in limbo between the fading flowers of spring and the first blooms of summer. I love this time: everything appears so fresh and vigorous, with the anticipation of colourful flowers and tasty fruit just around the corner. Hostas and lettuces remain unnibbled, the first tomatoes are setting and flowering plants are covered in promising buds. No time yet for greenfly, vine weevil and mildew to mame, chew and fog the garden’s emerald mantle. I want to dive in and wallow amongst the cool greenery, ruminating quietly like a hippopotamus in a swamp.

Dicksonia antartica, tree fern, Our London Garden,  June 2015
Dicksonia antartica creates elegantly dappled shade

Luxuriant foliage is all well and good, but it’s bad news for honey bees. A dearth of pollen and nectar can spell disaster for hives which are at their fullest and busiest during June. Until today most of the UK has been experiencing night temperatures in the low single figures. This suits ferns like Dicksonia antarctica (above) but not shy annual flowers that crave summer heat.

These foxgloves should have been white, but turned out pink
These foxgloves should have been white, but turned out bog-standard pink

All is not lost: even during a cool month certain plants can be guaranteed to bridge the June Gap and ease the pollen drought, not least foxgloves, Rosa rugosa, Clematis montana, osteospermum, Centranthus ruber, astrantias, honeysuckle, hardy geraniums and echiums (should you have room for something a little more exotic). Single flowers are a good choice because their nectaries are more easily accessible to hungry pollinators. A broad wash of green is hugely flattering to most colours so there’s less need to worry about clashes now than in high summer. Because the days are longest in June, I tend to plan for lots of white so that I can enjoy the blooms late into the evening.

Foliage textures, Our London Garden, June 2015
Hydrangea quercifolia flower heads start to emerge

The predicted warm (dare I say hot?) weather will quickly set bedding plants, herbs and wild flowers racing to attract their flying friends and the June Gap will soon close over. I will miss my sea of green, punctuated here and there by the high sails of foxgloves and the foaming whiteness of nemesias. The bees will not; they are looking forward to July’s sweet bounty.

Hosta 'Patriot', Our London Garden, June 2015
My all time favourite hosta, H. ‘Patriot’

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14 thoughts on “Wallowing in the June Gap

  1. I was out trying to take photos today and all is green here as well. 🙂 If there was a support group for Hosta gardeners, I’d be a charter member. I can picture myself standing in front of the group, head down a little, saying, Hi, my name is Judy and I’m a Hosta addict. I love Patriot and the blue one in the pot (can’t remember the name). 🙂 Go green.

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    1. The one in the pot is ‘Halycon’. At the last count I had 12 varieties. I have toyed with buying more, even the miniature kind, but my sensible self is saying ‘no’. I would like to join your group though as I am bound to fall off the wagon eventually 😉

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  2. I can’t think of a single other context in which the term ‘bog-standard’ could be applied to that shade of pink. I have ‘Patriot’ too, but it looks a lot more forlorn than your wonderful specimen, having been rather blown about and torn in high winds. You can’t have too many hostas though, and I do like the look of ‘Halcyon’. It goes tremendously well with the London stocks. Perhaps instead of a support group, you could start a hosta timeshare syndicate where different potted hostas are circulated among the members every year, meaning everyone can enjoy new varieties without the need for more gardening space.

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    1. What a fantastic idea! I like it. My Patriot is in a pot and really needs dividing as it’s now extremely cramped and leaves are smaller than normal. Halcyon is super tough, quite slug tolerant, very neat and very blue. I would recommend it 🙂

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  3. The Dicksonia antartica is stunning! June is a funny month here in Houston…this one is wet and the flowers that wait for long hot sunny days are in stasis.

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