June is another glorious month at Cluny with many flowers in bloom, gorgeous scents, busy insects and hungry young birds. Take your time going around looking up as well as down! A very dry May, means we are desperate for rain!


Candelabra primulas continue to flower throughout June with the early species, Primula chungensis (yellow), P. pulverulenta (cerise) being replaced by P japonica (crimson or white), P. beesiana (purple) and P. bulleyana (orange). Drifts of the later species can be found growing in the bottom half of the garden in boggy or damp conditions. Other primulas in flower during June include P. alpicola, sikkimensis & florindae (Himalayan cowslip). On still days you can get a whiff of the delicate scents coming from all these lovely plants but the combination of colours is spectacular. 


Blue or white Himalayan poppies, Meconopsis baileyi are in flower in many areas of the garden. These thrive in the humus-rich, leafy moist soils of Cluny. During June,  monocarpic plants (flowering only once) of M. staintonii & M. napaulensis with their striking soft fern-like leaves and beautiful yellow, white, pink, red or blue flowers can also be seen often reaching 2 metres in height.


During June between Nos 10/11 don’t miss the spectacular “Handkerchief tree” Davidia involucrata with its amazing creamy white bracts. Make certain you look up to catch the bracts fluttering in the breeze! At No 19 Cornus kousa is another small tree which produces white bracts. Just before No 24 (look behind and up) on the LHS is a Fragrant Snowbell Tree Styrax. Strongly scented azaleas, a number of rhododendrons and Enkianthius are in flower in early June. Many different highly scented shrub roses, Philadelphus (Mock orange), Deutzias, Syringa (lilac) and cotoneasters attract hundreds of worker bumblebees. Beautiful late Magnolias, climbing clematis and honeysuckles can be found throughout.


This is the beginning of the lily season. One of the most prolific at Cluny, having seeded itself throughout much of the garden is L. martagon, a European Turkscap lily with flowers in shades of purple and white. Along with L. pyrenaicum both grow prolifically on the wildflower bank as you approach or leave Cluny. Towards the end of the month, succeeding in out-growing them all is the magnificent Cardiocrinum giganteum, the Giant Himalayan Lily, with its long thick stalks which can grow up to 4m high topped with white scented trumpet flowers but the lack of rain this Spring may well stunt their growth. The not well-known but very attractive sky-blue flowers of Notholirion bulbiliferum bloom in the lawn beds and at the very bottom of the garden.

ARISAEMA (Cobra lilies)

These are amongst some of the strangest looking tuberous plants having unusually shaped spathes pale green to purple-veined in colour, often ‘well-hidden’ beneath large glossy leaves. One of the largest with a very long ‘tongue’, is Arisaema propinquum. A fine specimen of this species can be found directly opposite the second Sequoiadendron.  Some species with club shape tongues are commonly known as “Jack in the Pulpit”.  In general, they are spreading throughout, thriving in the soil conditions and woodland atmosphere of Cluny.  


Early in the month, Paeonia veitchii (perennial peony) and P delavayi (tree peony) are in flower particularly in the lawn area. Aquilegias in all forms and colours, are throughout, and wild orchids are spreading throughout the garden especially in the damper areas. Geraniums, Thalictrums (meadow rue), Jacob’s Ladders and Rodgersias provide colour and ground cover. Gentiana lutea (yellow gentian) flowers with tall spikes in the gravel in front of the house. There are other interesting plants in the gravel including introduced natives such as Nottingham Catchfly and Small Scabious which is very attractive to bumblebees. Digitalis grandiflora a yellow species foxglove, blooms prolifically in the gravel and elsewhere in the garden. Tropaeolum speciosum (Chilean Flame flower) is now crawling over many of the taller plants in the garden and by the end of June, its scarlet flowers should be in bloom.


Sadly the bird song quietens down by the middle of June but the woodland birds are very busy feeding their young including a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers which are nesting just outside the garden. Look out for the Red Squirrels feeding at the bird feeders at the first ‘Big Tree’ (No 4 – 5). They can often be seen in other parts of the garden racing up and down the larger trees and on the feeders around the car park. On hot days they tend to be much less active feeding in the morning and late afternoon so don’t be surprised if you don’t see any around mid-day! There should be loads of insects in the garden especially bumblebees and wasps, all very beneficial in helping with pollination and in the case of wasps, protecting the plants by eating aphids.  Apart from birds such as song thrush and blackbirds feeding on slugs, we also have plenty of toads and frogs helping us out. There are a couple of hares in the garden and a family of stoats was seen towards the end of May.


In the garden: weeding, grass cutting, weeding, grass cutting….! Growth of everything happens so quickly at this time of the year. In the potting areas seedlings continue to be pricked out and young plants potted on.