Do not begin grass cutting in woodland areas as the wild flowers and especially any bluebells or primroses will not have had time to seed and die down properly and may well be killed outright if you cut too early. Early July is plenty early enough even in Cornwall with its early growth. No matter how anxious you are to tidy up the garden do not commit an unnecessary act of vandalism against nature and its wild flowers. At Burncoose we are often told that our woodland garden looks “scruffy” in June but those who say this do not understand the reality.
Plant something different this year which flowers in June.
Woodland gardens often look a bit drab by mid or late June when the camellias and vast bulk of the magnolias and rhododendrons are over. Make a note to plant some of the following to extend the flowering season in your garden – Stewartia, Staphylea, Magnolias wilsonii and x wieseneri would be a good start.
Honey fungus very often strikes in early summer and acting quickly may slow or inhibit its spread. Honey fungus thrives naturally on rotting roots and stumps in all woodland gardens. Sometimes the long black tendrils of fungus invade the stems of living plants and literally strangle the flow of fluid and nutrients up and down the stems. Sometimes only part of the plant is infected but the symptoms are always the same – sudden drooping and browning of the leaves in a matter of just a few days. Where honey fungus strikes there is little that can be done except to remove and burn the infected branches or plants together with as much of their root systems as possible. Rhododendrons are especially vulnerable but camellias are not so if you lose the former in a particular spot, plant a camellia there instead of another rhododendron which will probably suffer the same fate.
Pruning Cornus / Dogwood
Coloured stemmed cornus or dogwoods provide great winter colour but they soon outgrow their positions and need pruning back hard in early summer. The best stem colours come from the fresh new growth. If you cut them now there will be plenty of time for vigorous new growth to emerge. Some might argue that this should be a winter job but this is surely the time when the garden is dormant and you want to appreciate them most.