I’m standing in the garden on a hot, sticky day in June just pondering.  Something’s definitely not right.  After the months of careful planting and weeding, I should be able to relax now that everything is in flower or just on the cusp, but instead I am more concerned than ever.  It’s not that things haven’t grown, rather that they’ve grown too well.  Over the years, I’ve been watching the plants grow progressively shorter as the regular mowing and removal of cuttings gradually reduced the fertility of the soil and I wasn’t expecting that trend to change.  Ideally, I should have a patch that’s little bigger than knee height, yet here I am faced with a common knapweed that’s practically tickling me under the chin and it’s not the only one.

When doubt creeps in I always say to myself “It’s a work in progress”, but at times like this it’s hard to believe that things are progressing at all, because there’s another problem compounding the issue.  I’m used to tearing out the common vetch that scrambles through and climbs up the long flower stalks shutting out the light for shorter plants, but now I’m finding increasingly large patches of its cousin the smooth tare whose filigree of fine stems is all but impossible to disentangle from plants I’m trying to protect.  What’s worse is that both of these plants are nitrogen fixers, actively raising soil fertility.

The only encouraging thing I can see is that right in the middle of the plot, where the yellow rattle grows densest, nothing has risen much past knee level, showing just how big a difference these plants make.

On the wildlife front, almost everything is currently flowering. This provides a variety of colours such as the lilac buttons of field scabious atop their long, swaying stalks and the graceful cobalt blue petals of meadow cranesbill rippling in the breeze accompanied by the yellows of the hazy drifts of lady’s bedstraw and the snapdragon-like toadflax. Alongside, the common knapweeds are finally beginning to unfurl their multitudes of magenta flowers that bees and many others adore, whilst the wild carrots will soon unveil their broad umbels of nectar-rich flowers – all a creamy white save for one central floret that blooms a rebellious red.

As for invertebrates, close inspection of open flowers reveals the presence of the metallic-green thick-legged flower beetle. Having recently emerged from the stems of plants such as thistles in which its larvae develop, the adults spend their days lumbering around many different flowers helping themselves to the buffet of pollen on offer this time of year. In the process they often acquire a liberal dusting which they then carry to the next plant, making them handy pollinators.

Well, that’s about it for June, a month in which – for one reason or another - I didn’t spend half as much time on my plot as I usually would.  I’ll be back next month when everything is at its busiest and hopefully, I can bring myself to just relax, study the wildlife and take a few pictures of the more active species that visit.