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What is summer solstice gardening all about? What is so special about this day for gardeners, and what should we all do in order to make the most of the day that marks the longest day and the shortest night?
Gardener Scott shares some thoughts on what the summer solstice is for and what it means for our garden design ideas. First, though, when is summer solstice this year?
When is summer solstice 2021?
This will depend on what time zone you have in your part of the Northern Hemisphere. If you are in North America, the solstice is on June 20 10:32pm CDT. If you are in the UK, it's on Monday 21 June at 4.32am BST.
For general reference, summer solstice falls at 03:32 UTC (Universal time) this year. There's a handy guide (opens in new tab) to translating UTC to your time zone if you want to know the exact timing in your zone.
Gardener Scott's top tip for summer solstice gardening
So, what is summer solstice for in the garden? In a recent YouTube video, Gardener Scott (opens in new tab) explains that this is the perfect time to take stock of what you've achieved this year – and make extensive notes in your garden journal.
'You should have a garden journal,' he says, and the solstice is the time 'to orient your entire gardening year. I use it as an opportunity to get the gardening clock ticking towards the end of the season, towards succession planting, end-of-season preparations going into winter.'
Some of that planning will involve taking an honest look at what plants haven't done so well this year and considering any changes you need to make to your garden, or to the garden structures that may be helping or hindering your plants.
'You can take a look at the planning of the garden: are the beds working out? Do you need more beds? Is there a structure that still needs to be built? Is there something to expand? You can really take a look at your garden – the solstice really helps you do that. Note any deficiencies in your garden journal; when it comes to the winter solstice, you can get planning and factor them in.'
Don't have any garden beds yet? You can get inspired with our raised garden bed ideas.
The reason it's so important to note these outcomes now is that by the time fall arrives, it may be difficult to even remember what the garden looked like at the height of summer. In Scott's Colorado climate, the solstice marks the point at which he has 'only three months left' before the first frosts arrive and the garden begins to wind down, but that's still long enough to forget the details.
It's at summer solstice time that the garden fully shows all of the successes and failures of this year's planting, flowerbed ideas and more – take full notes to help you with your winter planning.
If your garden is small, explore small garden ideas to see how you could make the most of it next year.
If things haven't worked out as you planned – say, a crop failed, or a plant died – it's important to keep positive. For every failure, there will be a success to celebrate.
'Try to highlight what's going right. Stop, smell the roses, and enjoy what you've accomplished,' Scott concludes.
Anna is a keen urban gardener, with David Austin roses and Japanese acers among her favourite plants. She moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space a couple of years ago. She's always been interested in how people make houses into homes, and how our concepts of what's stylish change over time.
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