Arts and Entertainment

June time for spring planting

Normally, most of us think of June as summer. After all, June is when our kids go on summer vacation. June also contains the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. In fact, after June 21, the days actually start getting shorter (now there's a depressing thought). So the feeling that June should be summer is fairly normal. Except that in the northwest, summer really doesn't start until July (some would say July 5th).

Think of it this way. There are 12 months in the year and there are four distinct seasons. A little math reveals that each season should contain three months. Therefore, each season will contain an early, mid, and late part, representing the first, second, and third months of each respective season. So here's how it looks: January, February and March represent early, mid and late winter; April, May, and June are early, mid, and late spring; July, August and September are our summer season; October, November and December are our fall season.

So even though we may be psychologically ready for spring in March, it is still very much winter, late winter to be exact. And we may similarly want June to be summer but it is in fact only late spring. So don't panic. There's still lots of time to plant and get the garden ready for the real summer that starts in July (if we are lucky).

June is a great time to plant all kinds of things. Trees, shrubs, perennials, lawns, and annuals can all be successfully transplanted this time of the year. While May is the traditional month of frenzied planting, the weather in June is much nicer (at least let's hope so) for gardening and the soil is warmer, thus helping root systems to grow faster. Soils are usually not as soaked either and are therefore easier to work. In many ways, June is actually a better month to plant than May. And that would definitely be the case this year.

June is the perfect month to buy roses. Garden centers have been pampering their roses since the middle of January. They are looking beautiful and will be blooming this month. No need to rely on faded pictures or biased text. You can see, touch, and smell the real thing this month and take them home in full bloom. They will transplant just fine.

June is a fine time for planting perennials. All the late winter and early spring bloomers have finished up, but there is a whole new batch of perennials ready to pop for the summer. Lavenders are looking lovely, Penstemons are perky, Monardas are marvelous, Day Lilies are dazzling, and Rudbeckias are rudacious. And the selection of ornamental grasses has exploded. There's always room for more perennials.

June is the time to finish planting the vegetable garden and orchard. We have been telling customers all spring to hold off on planting peppers, corn, beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and basil. Now is the time to do it. The soil is finally warm enough to plant these seeds or transplants and not have them go into hypothermia. Berries, grapes, and kiwis can all be planted now and fruit trees can be transplanted as well. Apples, pears, cherries and plums all do well here. In the right spot, figs will produce one crop a year and hazel nuts are also well suited for our climate.

June is a good time to restore or plant a new lawn. If the dethatching and moss killers didn't quite cut the mustard, then this is a good time to overseed. If you have a new home then planting a new lawn is quite easy in June. The soils are finally dry enough to work up a seed bed and level the surface. Be sure and use some lime and fertilizer when planting a new lawn or overseeding. Once the mercury reaches the 70's you can effectively remove broadleaf weeds by spot spraying. I don't recommend weed and feeds because they put entirely too much herbicide into the environment.

So remember that June is only "late spring," it's not summer yet. There's plenty of time to plant and the selection will never been better. Now that the weather has finally turned it's time to take your economic stimulus check down to the garden center and invest in something that will appreciate and give you years of enjoyment..

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, a retail garden center celebrating their 60th year in business. You can reach Steve at 425-334-2002 or email your gardening questions at

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