Enjoy iced elderflower squash. Credit: Pixabay

Gardening with Pat Duke: Elderflower squash is your garden repaying you for all your toil

Pat Duke

There are few reasons not to be out in the garden this last few weeks and the coming week looks to be no exception.

For once, even Glastonbury hasn’t been affected by torrential summer downpours.

Pelargoniums and even cosmos are out in bloom now so it’s a case of watering and weeding where you can.

June is one of the maximum pleasure months in the garden and it’s important we can make some time to enjoy the tranquility it provides.

Cut down some elderflowers and add water and lemons to create the taste of summer and think in terms of the garden repaying you for all your toil.

Pelargoniums are very much in vogue right now and can be picked up in three for a fiver deals up and down the country.

They are quirky little things and have a niche sub-species that remind me of those scented biros other kids seemed to have at primary school.

The scented leaved variety come in ‘flavours’ like mint, lemon, Turkish delight and even pine fresh.

Most gardeners have had an argument over whether they are geraniums or not, I know I have, but now I’m old enough to just let it go and bite my lip.

A giveaway will always be a scratch and sniff test of the leaves and you’ll know when their distinctive aroma is given up.

They are great in a pot in full sun and can be overwintered in a frost-free greenhouse, if you have one.

I bring mine indoors for the winter which does the trick.

Cannas can go in now if you’ve been overwintering them and they’ll give you amazing foliage and some Southern Hemisphere glamour late in the season.

Keep them well fed with liquid seaweed and they’ll keep going for years if kept dry and warmish.

The roses are going over now so go round and dead head them in the hope of spurring them on to make more blooms.

Feeding the pots will also ensure they keep going throughout the season as compost loses nutrients quicker than we’d like when plants are growing and packed in like they often are.

On the plot

Keep sowing salad crops to remind you its Summer and for the potential to show off when friends pop in unannounced and do that casual, well rehearsed ‘Oh, I’ll just pop down the garden and get something for lunch’.

Tomatoes are getting above their station now and need tying to a support so they can spend more energy on fruit production rather than staying upright.

Raspberries will be attracting attention of magpies and blackbirds by now so either net them or pick them if they’re blushed red.

Put more runner and French beans in so you can keep cropping them late into the season and fill the freezer for later in the year.

Beans are fantastic because not only are they a versatile, healthy and well flavoured plant they are also incredibly easy to keep seeds for next year.

My friend is on his 20th generation of broad beans, it’s that simple.

Keep a few beans aside at the end of the season, preferably the bigger fat ones and place them in a paper bag on a radiator or windowsill indoors until they are dried right through.

They will keep in a dark place like a tin or a drawer until you re ready for them next year.

Squashes will repay you in this way too using the exact same method.

Speaking of which, they can still be planted now and will reliably pop up asking for water.

Make sure they have plenty of organic matter under them when you’re sowing outside.

In between all this, get your feet up with a mug of tea or iced elderflower squash from the nearby tree.