Today is the longest day of the year. With sunrise in southern England just before 5am and sunset after 9.30 pm there must be time to enjoy your garden!

The longest day is the summer solstice, called the longest day because it has the greatest number of hours of daylight of any day in the year. The bad news is that the number of daylight hours starts to drop after 21st June. So let’s enjoy it today!

Celebrate your garden for longer on the longest day !

longest day

Enjoy sunrise and sunset in your garden and savour the changing view of trees and plants as light increases and fades. This image thanks to Chris Downer.

Make more plants

Across Europe, traditions around the longest day seek to make the most of the sun and light and are often linked to celebrating agriculture and marking a change in agricultural patterns because of the change in daylight hours. One school of gardening practices uses the length of the day or daylight hours to inform planting and harvesting.

June is a good time to start to take ‘soft wood’ cuttings from deciduous shrubs and climbers and perennial garden plants such as Fuchsia, Hydrangea, Penstemon and Pelargonium.

  • Use a sharp knife to cut a non-flowering shoot at least 10cm (4 inches) long and above a bud on the parent plant.
  • Cuttings from young plants root more easily than from old plants so be brave with your new favourite plants.
  • Take cuttings early in the day and act quickly!
  • Remove the lower leaves, pinch out the soft tip at the top and dip the bottom of the cutting in hormone rooting powder or liquid.
  • Use a pencil or blunt stick to make a hole in a container of good quality compost mixed with some grit or sand and insert the base of the cutting, leaving the first pair of leaves just above the level of the compost.
  • Label the pot and water it from above to settle the compost down. Cover it with a plastic bag and put it somewhere warm and light but not in bright sunlight
  • Remove the bag at least twice a week for at least 10 minutes each time to reduce the risk of mould and fungus.
  • Keep the compost moist for six to ten weeks and by then you should have new plants from rooted cuttings.
longest day

Celebrate the longest day by taking cuttings to increase your plants!

Choose and prepare a place to plant the lovely Magnolia ‘Summer Solstice’ as an annual reminder of summer days.

Eat outside

Many countries celebrate the longest day with meals outdoors. In Scandinavia it’s the time for dancing around maypoles and outdoor meals and drinks. Eat a summery meal (have you been growing your own salad leaves?) in the garden.

Celebrate light

Traditions of bonfires are common - and if it's not windy and your neighbours don’t mind, have a garden or allotment bonfire. (Check are no animals living under your bonfire heap and have water on hand to dowse the flames if necessary.)

Light candles indoors and out. Outside, try citronellla candles to keep gnats and midges away from you and your barbecue.

Whatever you do - enjoy as much of this, the longest day, in your garden as you can!