Summer in the Garden
1 Jun 2018

Chieveley Gardening Club on summer in the garden. Plus June garden activities for you. 

Summer is here and everything is coming to maturity, although still young and fresh. Borders are full of zest; there is much green alongside a great deal of colour from early summer perennials. The woods around here are bursting with foxglove, campion and honeysuckle and there is a cool twilight beneath the trees and shrubs in full young leaf. But, sadly June races by.

All gardeners (should) know that it is easier to work with the soil than to work against it: if they don't know they soon learn by experience. If your garden has heavy soil and is shady, grow the plants that thrive in those conditions. if your soil is light and free-draining (like mine), enjoy thriving carnations, lavenders and salvias, for example. There is no point in being swept away by the colourful astilbes and damp loving polyanthus at the garden centre. We all learn that lesson. The beginner will learn well from talking to neighbouring gardeners and wandering the paths of Chieveley admiring other gardens. None of us should be too proud to copy good ideas.

The National Gardens Scheme, encouraging local modest gardens to open for charity, is a paradise for those who enjoy garden-visiting both for the spectacle and the snooping opportunity. The ‘Yellow Book' ( is full of great ideas for local garden visits. The fabulous gardens at Farnborough and Bagnor are well worth a visit - as is our own Chieveley Manor (Sunday 10 June, 2-5pm, with fab cream teas).

Returning to plants that thrive in my patch of Chieveley - Carnations are wonderful in early summer. The plants have not yet had the chance to get leggy and are covered with fat flowers oozing scent into the air. Carnations and pinks make low mounds of their grey foliage and like well-drained soil; they are notably successful where it is alkaline. They are generally perpetual-flowering although the more generous varieties tend to become scrawny, woody plants. At this stage, it is time to renew them by taking cuttings or layers. Cuttings are dead easy to prepare and root reliably and fast, as long as you use free-draining compost and don't over water: clay pots help. Double white flowered ‘Mrs Simkins' is my favourite. The scent is out of this world; perfect for trailing over a low retaining wall where you may linger. You will.

Happy Gardening, Giles Derry

Dates for your diary

Saturday 7 July. Summer Tea Party. The Gardening Club is holding a traditional summer tea party on Saturday 7 July in the Michael and Jean Pocock's garden at Richmond House, Chieveley from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. This is for members and their guests and will include strawberries and cream and a glass of fizz or soft drink. The cost is £5 for members and £7 for any guests. Please let Michael, 248213‬, know if you would like to join us by Friday 8 June.