Cherrie's Notes June 22

Sunshine and showers….that’s what it’s all about this summer isn’t it ?

Sadly with the emphasis more on the showers than the sunshine - just when you think things are looking good along comes a deluge and your promising herbaceous plants are flattened.

But they usually bounce back don’t they? I have to say that I’d rather see a garden invigorated by rain than lacklustre for the want of it.

So I’ll try to remind myself of that when I look at flattened clumps of hardy geraniums and sworls of knapweed, which look as if corn circles have been visited upon them overnight.

Never mind, when I eventually cut them back they will benefit from the “Chelsea Chop” and I’ll have a second flush of flowers to enjoy.

The trees and shrubs love the moisture though don’t they? And looking it’s best ever this year and magical for shade, when the sun does come out, is an Acer which I bought from a happy little band of plants outside a greengrocers shop about 10 years ago.

By rights it shouldn’t look as good as it does, planted on a slope in a small raised bed next to the table and chairs.

It does need pruned to lift the canopy, but I can’t quite bring myself to do it yet.

In front of it in two large pots are my hermaphrodite blueberries, which self-pollinate and which just love the moist conditions.

But even though there has been plenty of rain about I still need to keep an eye on watering everything in pots and containers. I don’t always succeed though and these days I do try to plant everything in the ground when I can.

Among the happy exceptions are the herbs which I keep in pots just outside the kitchen door.

I love the fact that as they are so close at hand it’s easy to water them. As the garden proper is terraced and slopes it’s way up hill at the back of the house, it’s always a case of many trips from kitchen to garden with watering cans full and sploshing as I make my way up the steps to minister to thirsty plants.

Wet weather and slugs are notoriously happy companions, but as soon as I get the chance I’m off in search of copper strips to wrap round the necks of my pots of cornflower and nigella seedlings, in an effort to protect them from further chomping. So very dis-spiriting to see seedlings emerge only to be decimated by whatever slugs use to eat with - hard to imagine them having teeth.

Whatever the garden team at Glenarm Castle use to combat slugs, it works big time and if you want to see the results for yourself just go along to the walled garden and take a look at the cool border where small mountains of slug-magnet hostas are thriving.

BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners Question Time came to Glenarm during the week to record two programmes with Pippa Greenwood, Bob Flowerdew, Matthew Wilson and our very own Reg Maxwell on the panel. You can hear from them all on this week’s Gardeners' Corner, alongside students and teachers from Ballynahinch Secondary School who are learning how to grow their own fruit, flowers and vegetables.

We’ll hear as well about compost making on a grand scale using the contents of your brown/green bins and the great job it does in re-invigorating your garden - a case of the perfect re-cycling circle.

You can hear Gardeners Corner on Saturday morning just after the nine o’clock news, on Sunday when it’s repeated just after one or on-line where you can listen again or podcast.

The first of the Gardeners Question Time programmes recorded at Glenarm Castle will be broadcast on Friday the 28th of June at 3'o'clock.