JUNE, SWEET JUNE. Poppies, lilies, columbine and roses are the beauty queens of June and herald the beginnings of summer. One of the perennial seeders is the Lettuce or Peony flowered poppy (papaver somniferum) named no doubt for its’ frilly appearance. This pink one was spotted on the bank of our property about 13 years ago. I managed to get to the seed head and sprinkle the seed around and have been rewarded every year since. They are prolific re-seeders and not always true as evidenced by the pale lavender ones that showed up the following year.
Also in the poppy lineup is the orange perennial Oriental poppy (papaver orientale) that was given to me by a neighbor. This one blooms late in my garden most likely because of a shaded location. Dark green, ferny, hairy leaves and beautiful dark centers contrast sharply with the bright orange petals. After blooming, the leaves die away in July and reappear in late August or early September, so I have tried to inter-plant with geraniums and some carex varieties that will fill in the blank spots.
Two other garden spectacles make their appearance in June. The unusual and showy Dracunculus vulgaris has an unpleasant odor and goes completely dormant after flowering leaving no trace of leaf or stem. This plant came from Grandma T’s garden and produces new tuberous offsets for propagation.
Crambe cordifolia with its tiny white flowers held aloft on tall stalks are like a June snow shower. They float above big, bold, dark green leaves. The flowers have a light, sweet fragrance and overall the plant looks like giant Baby’s Breath.
Lovely to look at and tasty too, are chives. One of the few color notes in the herb garden.
Another member of the perennial onion family is Allium fistulosum or bunching onion. Beautiful white flowers that all bees and bee-like flies can’t seem to resist. A great plant to have at the perimeter of the vegetable garden to promote pollination.
And finally, a more unusual member of the family is the Egyptian or Walking onion that is a top-setting onion. As the topsets grow, the stalks bend to the ground where the bulblets take root.
One of most anticipated crops in June are Fava beans. Favas go into the ground here in mid-to-late October for spring harvest and poke their heads out a couple weeks later if the weather remains relatively mild. They continue to grow over the winter and begin flowering in early spring. I plant them for two reasons: they help to replenish the soil by fixing nitrogen in the soil where tomatoes have grown and are a delicious spring vegetable when shelled and lightly dressed with olive oil, lemon and a shaving of pecorino romano cheese. The quintessential taste of spring. (No apologies to peas.) Puréed with a little garlic, salt, and lemon juice favas make a savory spread for toasted bread.
And that wraps up everything good about June.