It’s been a bit of a wet start to June – welcome, though, particularly when I been planting out the garden with my summer bedding displays.

It’s always nice to plant out something then to watch nature water it in for you, and plants seem to establish more quickly with rain water.

Despite the wet start the ground is still workable and over the weekend I was planting a few more brassicas in the veg patch and it was surprising to see that the ground was still on the dry side, showing it can take a few more showers yet.

The weather has meant weed seeds are germinating very quickly – almost overnight! Try and keep on top of them by regular hoeing: keep the hoe sharp – the intention is to cut and disturb germinating weed seedlings, so that the drying winds or hot sun kills the weeds and germinating seedlings. It would be nice if flower or vegetable seeds germinated as quickly and strongly as weed seeds!

My vegetable patch is now becoming more bountiful, and I have been harvesting spring brassicas (despite the birds) along with lettuce and radish. I am now harvesting autumn-sown peas and beans which taste absolutely wonderful. My cucumbers have also been large enough to harvest but it is my ripened strawberries which have been in full demand. Despite using nets, I did lose a few to birds, though I still have plenty to keep the family happy.

This is a good year for fruit generally, due to the warm and dry spring which resulted in lots of flowers and pollinating insect activity. This is also evidenced by the number of fruits developing on many of my other fruit bushes and trees.

Have you noticed how the phormiums and yuccas are bursting into bloom? I thought last year’s blooms were rather impressive, but as you can see from my photograph this week the phormiums are throwing up multiple flower heads, which give the plant much added interest.

The flowers themselves are rather small, though can look interesting when in large numbers. When pollinated these flowers then produce seed pods, which can look like runner bean pods or large round pods depending on the type of phormium.

Phormium is a genus of only two plant species, one (Phormium colensoi) endemic to New Zealand, the other (Phormium tenax) native to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. No surprise, then, to learn that the common name for phormium is the New Zealand flax. However, from these two species there are many cultivars several of which have received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden merit such as Phormium ‘Sundowner’ and Phormium ‘Yellow Wave’.

Phormiums are relatively easy to grow and are grown for their foliage – they produce large sword-shaped leaves. In effect it’s like a large clump of grass which can grow to around two metres tall. It’s grown for its structural shape and looks good as an individual plant or in clumps at the back of the border.

It’s not normally grown for its flowering spikes as most years the UK weather is not ideal for the plant, so if you have a phormium with large flower spikes, enjoy!

After the flower spikes have set seed, they will need to be cut away from the base. To propagate, simply lift the clump and split/divide into smaller pieces and replant around the garden or pot then up. Cut the leaves back by half to mitigate the loss of water from the leaves to help the plant re-establish. Given it’s a leafy plant, they like to be fed with a lawn/grass fertiliser.