The summer solstice has always been a significant point in the calendar – the point where the days gradually start to get shorter and we move towards winter once more. Or, as my dad would say, ‘It’s all downhill from here’. I can’t imagine where I get my pessimistic gene from.
The longest day held such importance to our ancestors that they built the wonder that is Stonehenge. In the 21st century our connections to the seasons have diminished somewhat but as gardeners we still feel these links. Being able to garden until after 9 pm is one of the real joys of midsummer for me. When the air is still, scents from roses, honeysuckle and jasmine linger and swallows swoop overhead. This is what I dream of on those long, dark winter days.
It’s all too easy though for gardeners to look up from the weeding and see that summer has passed them by. I know the pots need watering, that rose needs deadheading and the alchemilla could do with staking so you can actually use the path, but as the Welsh poet William Henry Davies wrote, ‘what is life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.’ Make sure gardening doesn’t become a chore this summer by remembering to enjoy your green space and your love of plants. Here are some of my tips to enjoy your garden this summer:
- Pull up a chair. I’ve been in my garden for 8 years now and I still haven’t got round to buying some proper garden furniture. I rarely sit down in my garden which is a real pity. Then a few months ago I came across a beautiful rusty, old chair. It now resides in a shady spot in my garden under the bowers of my crab apple tree. I’m trying to make sure I sit on it with a cup of tea or a glass of wine every now and then to appreciate the hard work of the previous months.
- Study the wildlife visiting your garden. It is one of the most satisfying elements of creating a garden when you realise wildlife want to share the space with you too. Set up a moth trap, have the camera ready to capture images of those butterflies and invest in some identification guides to help spot the myriad of bees and bugs visiting your flowers.
- Take photos. Record your garden over the coming months. Not only will these images be a good reminder of what worked, what didn’t work and what you can change next year, they’ll also cheer you up in the depths of winter. Join a social media site such as Twitter or Instagram where you can share your gardening pics with other plant lovers.
- Visit a plant fair. There are still a few gardening shows left in calendar whether it’s RHS Tatton or one of the fabulous Rare Plant Fairs.
Visit other gardens. Whether it’s a National Trust property or one of the thousands which open their doors for the NGS, a nosey around a garden you’ve never seen before or a trip to see an old favourite can be just the ticket to revive flagging garden spirits and fire the imagination. My favourites include Helmsley Walled Garden in North Yorkshire, Hidcote in Gloucestershire, Stocktonbury in Herefordshire and The Barn House Garden in the Wye Valley.