June started much as May ended, me working and husband still on furlough. The weather had started to change a little, it was marginally wetter and we had less days of wall to wall sunshine. To be honest I didn’t mind too much. I don’t like the really hot weather and because I was working again, each day wasn’t starting with a check on the weather forecast. I was grateful for the lengthening days as it meant that even working all day I could still get four or five hours in the garden each night. Watering all the plants was an ever expanding job requiring multiple watering cans rather than the one I had started with at the beginning of lockdown. We were now a two can garden.

Early buds on the sunflowers – their distinctive shape already showing

The foxgloves were really coming into their own and I spent a lot of time photographing them, especially after a rain shower. Raindrops on leaves are stunning to photograph and several plants in the garden looked beautiful with those glistening droplets on their flowers and leaves, especially the lupins which seem almost designed for that moment. The sunflowers were also flourishing – I began taking pictures of them almost every day, watching the buds change, a promise that their yellow petals would unfurl soon.

Raindrops on foxgloves

Those evenings spent pottering in the garden were very therapeutic for me. Deadheading and watering as I went around all the pots. Checking for buds, looking for new flowers, checking soil to see who needed more or less watering. I was learning exactly what my little collection of plants needed. The Maltese Cross were flowering but not enjoying the hot sun when we had it, so they were moved to a shadier spot. The strawberries thrived in their little sun trap corner underneath the newly flowering buddleia and we had our first crop that was big enough to be a dessert rather than just picking them and eating them off the plant.

Buddleia flowers started to bloom

I love my buddleia – it appeared out of nowhere the second year we lived here. It grows out of the side of the house (yes, I know, I know, I should discourage this) and it flowers profusely from June to September. It smells great, looks beautiful but that’s not why I love it. I love it because it is pollinator heaven. Bees and butterflies practically queue up to gorge themselves on its pollen. This year I read up on caring for it – lots of dead heading, a little judicious pruning and just let it do its thing till Autumn. As I write this post in October the final flowers have just faded and in the next ten days or so I will be reducing it back by half to protect it from the wind over winter.

This period of early summer was very rewarding, watching everything growing and starting to flower. My campanula suddenly seemed to burst out of nowhere and the new plants were changing and promising a fine display of flowers.

The one point of gardening continuity for me is hydrangeas. I’ve always grown them – with one exception everywhere I’ve lived I’ve had hydrangeas. The ones we have with us now came from the house we moved into in 2013 – they were neglected little things stuck in pots that were too small for them and I brought them back to life. Then they came with us when we moved house again in 2016. A couple of years ago my Uncle died and my Aunt gave me a gift from his will and I bought something permanent for the garden to remember him by, two stunning hydrangeas to add to the two we already had. They all flower at slightly different times from each other, the newer two are deep pink and the two originals are a little paler, more delicate. My Uncle’s plants are loud and bold and shout summer from their place under the window. I remember him from my childhood as a man with a big voice and a booming laugh. I remember him teasing us and making us laugh. I think he’d like his hydrangeas – they are joyful and loud too.

The major step forward for us in June was the addition of a raised bed to grow vegetables in. I had been unsuccessfully trying to grow some vegetables in pots. I had sewn lettuce and spinach which didn’t look good (I should have thinned them out but I just left them). I had a couple of tomato plants and some edamame beans that didn’t seem to be doing very much so we decided to up our game and try to grow things in a raised bed.

So I ordered one from Etsy, and waited for its arrival. I also ordered soil. You really need a lot of soil for a raised bed. My milkman (who is bizarrely the person I get my soil from!) must have thought I was burying bodies under the patio from the amount of soil I ordered. I ordered plug plants too. Given how late we decided to start it seemed prudent to get something that had had a head-start tended by professionals. But for now, at the end of June, we just had an empty raised bed full of soil, while we waited for the plug plants to arrive.

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