Alleyn Park Garden Centre

June Newsletter 2018

How lovely to be writing this having had week after week of (mostly) fabulous weather in which to enjoy our gardens and open spaces …. I love seeing families picnicking in the park in the evenings, and being able to potter about in the garden in my pj’s very early in the morning, while the dew is still on the grass and the sun is barely over the tree line. Heaven!

Those who read the newsletter each month know that I am in a new garden this year, and it’s been such a joy to see what unexpected things emerge from the ground, or start to flower on previously unidentified stems. There have been some lovely surprises (most notably some gorgeous roses, including the luscious Munstead Wood, and an incredible deciduous fern), and a couple of disappointments (that grass that I can’t name which is really rather mundane!). It’s been such fun thinking ahead and adding perennials and shrubs for late summer and autumn interest, too.

The whole process of acquiring and working on a new garden has reminded me just how much a gardener is always thinking ahead …. planning and planting for the next season or two, and even thinking years ahead. There is something deeply satisfying in knowing that all the hard work you put in now will pay dividends in the future.

After the very slow start to the gardening season, the explosion that has taken place in the last 6 weeks or so is apparent everywhere. At the garden centre the roses are the show stoppers. June is most definitely THE month for them. Valerie has ordered in lots for you to choose from, from neat shrub roses that will grow to just 1m, to stonking great ramblers. If you have room, why not under-plant your shrub rose with lavender? It’s such a classic combination, for good reason, and we have some glorious specimens in stock right now.

Acers, hydrangeas and bamboo fill the shady corner of the top site, and there are still some fruit trees (including fan-trained and espaliered) up near the brick sheds. In the sleeper bays you’ll find some delightful small trees, many of which are really unusual, as well as Magnolia and Cornus and much more besides.

On the lower site you’ll find swathes of glorious herbaceous perennials, including favourites such as Campanula, Verbena, Achillea, Echinacea and Geum; silvery Stachys, Artemesia and Nepeta. As Sally mentions in her section below, many plants were lost over the winter we had, but rather than mourn their loss, plant something new and exciting in their place!

We’ve still got a good range of climbers in stock including some incredible huge Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine) which dominate, along with many varieties of Clematis, Parthenosisus, Lonicera (honeysuckle) and Wisteria.

Martyna is doing an amazing job of keeping the shed filled with fabulous house plants, funky indoor pots, terrariums and all the associated sundries, including specialist feeds and composts.

We all love the new Chilly’s bottles in stock in the shop. These beautifully designed ergonomic bottles keep water and drinks cold for 24 hours (I’ve tested them, and it’s true) or hot for up to 12 hours. In a range of wonderful colours and patterns they are an absolute treat.

Of course the warmer weather means more time spent outside in the evenings, so stock up on charcoal ready for that impromptu gathering. Oh, and if you don’t have a barbeque, we have Kadai fire pits or portable barbeque buckets in stock now.

The most important message to get across this month is ‘Make sure you take time to enjoy this glorious month’

We very much hope to see you at the garden centre soon.

With warm wishes


Garden jobs

Walking back from my local shops this afternoon I was stopped in my tracks by one of my favourite smells of summer - honeysuckle was tumbling over a high garden wall. June is a super month with so much coming into flower, beautifully scented flowering shrubs, roses of all colours, beds and borders seemingly growing overnight and so much colour getting going in pots and containers. Here are some ideas to get you working outside, as well as reminding you to stop and let your senses absorb this lovely month.

General garden maintenance

  • The basic garden jobs of feed, weed, stake and water carried out regularly will keep the garden looking good.
  • Treat the garden to a good fertiliser and your plants will perform much better - very old bottles of fertiliser may not have the necessary ‘oomph’.
  • Keep on top of weeds in borders, containers and in paving. Annual weeds can be pulled out or hoed while they are small and left to wither on top of the soil. Perennial weeds should be removed completely with nothing left of the root. Alternatively use a chemical gel or spray to treat invasive weeds such as bindweed and ground elder, being careful to avoid drift onto garden plants.
  • It's not too late to stake tall herbaceous plants - do it now before those taller plants like delphiniums, lilies, and peonies lean too far with the weight of their blooms, especially after heavy rainfall.
  • Early flowering perennials such as Geranium phaeum, Brunnera, Tellima, Pulmonaria and others can be cut hard to the ground when the flowers have faded - new leaves will be generated. Water well afterwards.
  • Deadheading - most plants will continue to flower if you regularly remove faded blooms, stopping the plant from setting seed. Cut fading flowers either to a pair of buds, or back to the main stem, depending on the plant in question.
  • Carry on tying in climbers as new shoots grow on plants such as honeysuckle and clematis. Use Soft-Tie or string onto trellis or wires.
  • As soon as your sweet peas start to flower, keep picking them to encourage more blooms.
  • Remove blanket weed from ponds to allow plants and fish to breathe. Leave the debris on the side of the pond to allow wildlife to return to the water before putting it on the compost heap.

Container gardening

  • Plant up containers to bring wild hot colour or cool sophistication to your balcony, terrace or patio. There is a wide selection of annuals to choose from: geraniums, verbena, isotoma, ageratum, lobelia and more. Water, feed and deadhead containers of bedding on a regular basis to keep them looking good for months.
  • Alternatively, put some more thought and planning into a group of perennial plants for a big container which will come up year after year. Choose from plants which will thrive in shade for a tricky corner, or sun-lovers for a pot in a hot spot.
  • Fruit, vegetables and herbs can all be grown in containers - there are lots of edibles to try such as patio fruit trees, blueberries or strawberries, tomatoes, aubergines, peas, beans or salad leaves which you can try. Almost any herb can be grown in a container. It’s well worth the effort - keep them watered and enjoy the fresh harvest.


  • Trim topiary, to keep it looking smart and to maintain the shape. Choose a cloudy day so that the leaves don't go brown with leaf scorch, and remember to feed and water afterwards.
  • Prune late winter and spring flowering shrubs such as flowering currants and forsythia. Cut a few stems down to ground level, and the remaining to a healthy new shoot. Next year's flowers will develop on the new growth.
  • Cut out stems of variegated plants such as Euonymus and Elaeagnus which have reverted.
  • Prune out overcrowded or dead stems of evergreen Clematis (such as Clematis armandii) once flowers have finished in order to maintain a good shape.


  • Plant a tree - it’s good for the environment, good for the future and a wonderful addition to the garden.
  • Keep planting annuals and perennials to brighten the garden. There’s always a gap to fill and you may be finding some plants didn’t survive the tough winter and spring we had. Take the opportunity and introduce something new. Many shrubs and herbaceous perennials can be planted now either for immediate impact or to get established to look forward to later in the year. Planted well, they will settle in happily.
  • There are lots of seeds which can still be sown - sunflowers, nigella, nasturtiums, calendula - why not have a go! Read the instructions on the pack, and see what comes up.

Watering and feeding

  • Watering - be aware of the plants which need more water, including those recently planted, young vegetables and plants in containers. If we experience drought conditions, remember that it's better to really soak plants a couple of times a week than to sprinkle a little water each day. Always make sure water soaks right down to the deeper roots.
  • All new compost has sufficient nutrients to feed plants for up to 6 weeks, but thereafter you should get into a routine of feeding when you water. This is especially important for plants in containers, which can't send their roots further into the soil.

Fruit and vegetables

  • Tomatoes are always a favourite and rewarding edible to grow - the flavour can be so much better than supermarket offerings. Even if you only have a small outside space, as long as it gets 6 hours of sun each day, it’s worth trying a few plants. Plant young plants into their final pot or grow bag when the first flowers appear. If growing a cordon variety such as Alicante, Sun baby or Gardeners Delight, you should be ready to tie it onto a cane and remove all side shoots maintaining one main stem from which the fruit trusses will develop. Bush and tumbling tomatoes such as the Balconi variety, Tumbling Tom Red (and Yellow) do not need their side shoots removing - each stem ends in a fruit truss. Once the first truss of tomatoes has formed, start feeding with a tomato feed.
  • Harvest salad leaves and resow every 2 weeks for a constant supply.
  • Avoid using insecticides on crops when they are in flower.
  • Water potatoes well if the weather is dry. Early potatoes should be ready to harvest soon. Look out for the first flowers, and once they have opened, there should be a crop ready under the soil.
  • Runner beans and climbing French beans can be sown or planted outside, as well as squash, courgettes and sweet corn. Leeks should be planted out when they are pencil thick. Radish, Swiss chard, salad crops, peas, beans, courgettes - now’s the time to sow lots directly outside.
  • If planting sweetcorn, sow/plant in a block, setting sweetcorn plants 35cm apart with 60cm between rows. This arrangement helps this wind pollinated crop.
  • Blueberries and cranberries growing in pots need to be kept moist at all times, preferably with collected rainwater.
  • Tie in raspberry and blackberry canes.
  • Start to prune plum and cherry trees.
  • Watch out for the June drop which is the process of fruit trees naturally shedding surplus amounts of fruit. You should remove any damaged or misshapen fruit and, if there is a lot of fruit remaining after the natural fall, remove some more by hand. What's left will be better quality and the tree will have more energy to put into the remaining fruit.


  • Herbs are a fabulous group of plants, looking and tasting good and adding much to cooking and cocktails.
  • Try to give herbs the conditions they require. A sunny spot suits Mediterranean type herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage and lavender; green leafy herbs such as mint, parsley, and coriander will be happy in semi shade.
  • When harvesting herbs, the general rule is to cut a sprig or stem and then strip the leaves off to use. The plant will reshoot from where it's been cut, and keep producing fresh growth. If you simply strip leaves off the plant, the stems will go brown and die off, resulting in an unsightly plant.
  • Some herbs such as coriander, basil, rocket and parsley can be grown from seed in successive sowings, ensuring that as one crop goes to seed, the next is supplying fresh green foliage.
  • Cutting some herbs such as mint, rocket, coriander to the ground will prompt fresh growth to extend the harvesting season.
  • Remember too that herb flowers encourage beneficial insects into the garden. The flowers are normally edible, and can add lovely colour and flavour to salads.


  • Mow the lawn at least once, and preferably twice, a week at this time of year. The less grass removed at each cut, the healthier the grass will be. If we hit a dry spell, reduce the frequency of cutting and raise the mowing height.
  • Recently laid or sown lawns should be watered regularly in dry periods.

Pests and diseases

  • Mildew affects many ornamental and edible plants. It is identified as white powdery spreading patches of fungus on both sides of the leaf, flowers and fruit. There are different species of mildew which have quite narrow host ranges, thus the species which affects apples is different to the one affecting peas. Remove and dispose of all affected leaves and stems as soon as possible. Mulching and watering will reduce water stress and make plants less susceptible to infection, as will improving air circulation around the plant. If necessary, treat with an appropriate fungicide.
  • Protect vulnerable plants from slugs and snails. Dawn and dusk outings wearing gloves and carrying a bucket, and then dousing the collected molluscs with salt, can reduce the populations dramatically. Slug pellets or bait should be used sparingly - follow the instructions on the pack. Using a straw mulch such as Strulch, will deter slugs and snails. Beer traps can be very effective too, but you need to empty them daily.
  • Keep an eye out for aphid infestations, often on the underside of leaves - it's much easier to control if caught early. Squish them, or use an insecticide. Always use sprays carefully, in the evening when fewer beneficial insects are active, and choose a time when there isn't a breeze. Be particularly careful to protect bees - they are essential to our survival as a planet.
  • Bright red lily beetle and bronze/green striped rosemary beetle can do a lot of damage in a short space of time, so keep an eye out for them. Provado is the only pesticide recommended by the RHS as effective against these bugs. Read the instructions before using on edible crops. Or just pick them off and squish them.


  • Birds need constant supplies of food and water as they raise their young, so keep feeders and bird baths topped up.
  • Give bird baths a regular scrub to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Don't trim hedges or prune shrubs unless you are sure any bird nests within are empty.
  • Vary the length of grass around the garden to encourage different groups of wildlife: birds will find insects if the grass is short, longer grass may allow bee friendly lawn weeds such as clover to flower.

Let’s hope summer gets off to a good start this month. As always, take time to relax in your outside space as well as keeping on top of the essential jobs.