Kate Stallard: tales from my garden

Leukaemia Care trustee Kate Stallard is in remission from acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL), and since her diagnosis she has found gardening to be a way to cope. Here, she talks about what she’s been up to in her garden throughout June.

Well, my rain dancing paid off! The garden is looking greener and lusher in recent days, a good dollop of rain has allowed respite from the daily watering routine. Not to mention a small saving on the water bill.

I’ve taken a bit of a step back the past few days and instead of pottering around the garden, I have allowed myself time to be present and delight in the plentiful flowers. The roses, foxgloves, snapdragons and dianthus are all blooming and it’s blooming lovely. My globe artichokes are covered in aphids, so my calm demeanour breaks momentarily as I grab the hose and blast them off!

I have two big ash trees in my garden which thankfully haven’t succumbed to ash die back as yet. They provide me with much needed shade on the hot summer days. I love sitting underneath them, being shielded by their canopy, mindful of the pigeons overhead that also enjoy taking cover in the branches and we all know what that means. The dogs alternate between sunbathing on the grass and then flopping into the shade the trees create, when it all gets too much. It’s a hard life for them.

I have come to cherish the trees over the past few years, a connection that has grown stronger having spent so much more time in their environment. The other day I found myself just staring up into their canopy, noticing how the branches intertwine and new growth ramping on. The strong, sturdy trunks are covered in lichen giving it a silvery, ethereal glow. I felt reassured by their enduring presence. I wanted to throw my arms around them and embrace them, so I did! I felt a sudden urge of gratitude to my lovely trees. I have become a tree hugger as well as a twitcher now, so it seems. Some might say I have been in lockdown too long, others may say not long enough!

June has been a month of garden appreciation, of light pruning of the roses and spent flowers and a more drastic pruning of my Choisya ternata, Mexican orange blossom; it looked stunning but was rapidly covering a window so needed a trim.

As we near the end of June and enter July, there is still time to sow seeds such as French beans, beetroot, courgettes and lettuce. You may be able to harvest raspberries and strawberries. Try putting supports in for tall growing perennials, as they tend to flop over. Feed tomato plants and dead head flowers to encourage more growth. But most important of all, take time to sit back, take a deep breath and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.

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