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June - Up in the Air!

June was certainly an unusual month for gardeners, following on from an unseasonably cool May. The heatwave was most welcome and meant that roses, peonies, wisteria and other early summer flowering plants and shrubs finally hit their stride. The rarity was that azaleas, rhododendrons and tulips were often still flowering as these emerged, producing a delightful range of colour and blossom to enjoy. And unlike last year, hot air balloons were a frequent addition to the early morning or evenings skies around Dunsfold.

I don’t know what it is like for most gardeners but I always find June rather too busy, battling weeds, mowing, trimming and staking wayward plants and trying to fill gaps in borders. Sometimes I honestly just don’t know where to begin and can feel quite overwhelmed. Thankfully the long daylight hours mean I can potter around until late, and take a break from the heat during the middle of the day. Early June was, unfortunately, met with a disaster in my garden when I realized that the dreaded box caterpillar had taken hold in a few places. The cool May temperatures had slowed their progress and I had almost forgotten about them. Sadly, they do make their presence known if you are observant and know what to look for in your box plants. Constant vigilance and maintenance is the only way to minimise damage to your box plants. The best course of action is to spend the time picking off the caterpillars and killing them – a messy but somehow satisfying task. After that comes spraying all your box plants with a biological insecticide (I use Topbuxus Xentari) and feeding them to help them recover. Most garden designers are now steering away from box entirely because of the double whammy of box blight and caterpillars. There are so many good substitutes for box and you can even find a display of alternatives at RHS Wisley for anyone interested in the subject.

But it wasn’t all work! The Society members did have a wonderful outing to Sleepy Hollow in Chiddingfold and, at the time of writing this, another trip planned to Fittleworth near Pulborough. We would like to thank Susannah and her children for entertaining us so well at Sleepy Hollow and providing delicious tea and cake, always a highlight of our visits. The house, of typical Surrey/Sussex style, is well positioned on the outskirts of Chiddingfold in a very rural position. The garden was absolutely delightful with its vegetable garden, Victorian style greenhouse, cutting garden, woodland walk and herbaceous borders along the extensive terraces. Roses and peonies were only just starting to bloom and will undoubtedly provide a glorious display in a few weeks time. For me, the highlight was definitely the small, enclosed cutting garden with its lovely array of flowers billowing over the paths and abuzz with bees. The planting was done with such care and provided a real unified but yet diverse display of colour and texture. Well worth visiting and you can do so as Sleepy Hollow does open through the National Garden Scheme several times during the year. Visit to book.

The Society has several other garden visits organised for the summer and early autumn. Do visit our website for further details and contact us via if you are interested in joining us. In line with current government advice, we do have some restrictions on numbers but we hope that will ease after 19 July. We are also hoping that our Main Show will happen as planned on 11 September at The Winn Hall in Dunsfold. Show programmes have been printed and handed out to all members. Non-members are most welcome to participate in the Show and if you would like a programme and entry form please email us on and we will get one to you (or look on our website for details). Fingers crossed for a physical display rather than a virtual show!

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