May is one of the nicest month’s in the garden but another very busy one. It also has a key event in the social/garden calendar – the Chelsea Flower Show which this year is going to be very different due to lockdown. It will be virtual but at least it is happening, it is so inspirational but more of that later.
In our garden the rain has made everything look so vibrant and put a real spurt on. So many plants are beginning to bloom including the hardy geraniums, lupins, scabious and climbing roses.
The choisya is a mass of blooms and smelling wonderful as are the above mentioned roses.
The veg bed is coming along with the leeks and courgettes planted along with the tomatoes and basil in the greenhouse, all hubby’s domain! There are still some zinnia’s in there too which will soon make it out to the cold frame.
The cutting flower bed has been weeded, dug over and ready and waiting for those plants which are currently hardening off.
Everything you read about growing from seed is that once plants which have more than one stem, so branch like, are between 20 & 30cm high, you should ‘pinch out’ the central stem to promote grow. This can also help extend the flowering period.
Here are the cosmos and larkspur now in situ. I have pinched out some of the cosmos so as to do a comparison.
We are now at the 7th of May and in the middle of another few days of glorious weather so we are continuing with planting out anything ready in the cold frame into the garden gradually filling up the boarders. The ammi has gone in, I put the viola’s my sister sent as seeds for my birthday into pots which should flower later this year. They are with the pots of succulents, agapanthus and pelargoniums which will hopefully be in flower in the next couple of months. They are last years pelargoniums so it will be interesting to see how well they do.
The tiny allium buds showing last month are now in full bloom nestling amongst the bronze fennel.
Sunday 10th May and it is Garden Day UK which was first launched nationally last year and according to their website ‘it is a chance for people to down tools, don a flower crown and spend time celebrating their gardens. Everyone is invited from balcony and indoor gardeners to flower border fanatics and lawn devotees and the most important thing is to take time to enjoy your garden’
It is a shame it wasn’t yesterday as most of the country basked in sun whereas today is rather grey. and breezy. But I made my flower crown from flowers and foliage in the garden and even put a frock on for the occasion!
And I have to say we constantly enjoy our garden even if viewing from inside on a dull, windy day. The senecio, (Brachyglottis) is looking good after it’s earlier trim and such a useful plant for floristry, I used it in my flower crown above.
Fortunately it is deemed a good idea to have a part of the garden left to nature letting wild flowers seed and nettles grow which help with the wild life and that is exactly what this patch is with the wonderful cow parsley. It is down near the river so ideal for dragon flies looking for insects to feast on.
You may recall my over eager planting of the Salvia Amistad which had to be protected, well it looks like it has survived with new shoots showing at the base and some flowers. It is supposed to grow to a height of 1.2m so a way to go yet. We saw it in all it’s glory when we visited The Salutation Gardens last year in Sandwich, such an inspirational place.
I can hardly believe we are half way through May and it only goes to shown how variable the weather can still be. The last few days have been chilly with some areas having a frost, fortunately not here. It does mean recently planted annuals have not grown very much but the roses are getting better as the month progresses.
They look great with the large headed clematis, a close up below. Given the flower timing, we apply the rule ‘flower before June, don’t prune’
And the pink thrift in the front shingle garden are looking very vibrant.
The nest we found in the front garden last month turned out to be a pheasant and not a mallard. The eggs have now hatched but mum and chicks left the premises pretty quickly, I think they were spooked by the dog!
And so here we are on the eve of the Chelsea Flower Show. We were incredibly fortunate when we had the shop to be asked to provide floral arrangements via a local nursery, for Capital Garden Products a company supplying fibreglass pots, troughs, planters and urns. We did it for 3 years and it meant going on site on the Sunday before opening to do the arrangements and then a refresh on the Wednesday. It was such a thrill be see all the gardens and pavilion being given the final touches and have the opportunity to walk round without the crowds. Below are the urns we did in 2014.
Chelsea Flower Show week has arrived and what beautiful weather. It is great that the RHS decided to go ahead with ‘virtual’ Chelsea and it has been good watching various YouTube video’s with designers, florists and gardeners. I have seen Andy Sturgen and Diarmuid Gavin’s gardens, floristry demo’s by Nikki Tibbles, Shane Connolly, Larry Walshe, Hiding in the City and talks by Sarah Raven, Simon Lycett and Tom Massey. So that’s my Chelsea fix for this year.
Obviously nothing can compete with the real thing but it has still been inspiring. I wonder what would have been the trends, colours and new plants to have emerged had it gone ahead, I think sustainability and climate change would have been up there!
Our garden is coming on a treat with this glorious sunshine. The cosmos and larkspur are gaining height and the amaranths and zinnia have been planted. The roses are really going for it, we have some which were here when we moved in and I do not know their names but the one above is a David Austin called Mary Rose and looks great scrambling up the apple tree.
It is important to dead head now to prolong the flowering of all plants and some benefit from ‘The Chelsea Chop’ a technique named as it tends to happen around Chelsea week. This means cutting down boarder perennials by about a third. I am not very good at doing this as like so many I find it hard to chop off buds and lush growth so I have done it tentatively and as a bit of an experiment. One of the perennial geraniums has had a chop as have the asters and below is a before and after photo. I will chart their progress in later posts.
I have also pruned the broom, bridal spirea and euonymus. The geulda rose will be next once the flowers have faded as they along with the above are blocking out light to the dahlia’s which yes, have come back – hooray – some have got quite tall whilst others are just poking through.
Now is a good time to take cuttings from the likes of dahlia’s and salvia’s. I in fact found a broken stem of a salvia so have taken cuttings from that and keeping my fingers crossed.
The self seeded nigella is just starting to show colour, it is quite a carpet at one end of the cutting bed and surrounding an artichoke.
We have had some really hot days the last couple of weeks, such a contrast to the beginning of the month so have needed to keep an eye on anything recently planted. Once they get established they should not require much watering, you always get a much stronger plant/shrub if they have good initial soakings and then leave them to put down strong roots to find water rather than rely on regular surface watering. It is also important to put plants in the right place. I planted a couple of astilbes under an apple tree thinking they would have sufficient shade but one of them always looks a bit sad, it is too dry for it so I must remember to move it in the autumn. Another mistake, as was planting Oxeye daisy or at least the variety I have! It is a lovely perennial but just takes over and seeds like wildfire. I have spent hours removing the seedlings. So the moral here is to do your research and plant the right plant in the right place!
We have a few cardoons and artichokes in the boarders as they are great statement, architectural plants but they need support. The one above will have leaves and flowers way up into the cherry tree and is very heavy so can easily be damaged by wind.
I have a few more annuals to plant up, cleomy and the rest of the amaranths which will go where the lupins currently are. They are looking good at present but are quite short lived and then leave rather a gap.
Hubby’s veg is coming along nicely, the tomatoes are growing well in the greenhouse.
Also the alchemilla mollis is looking great, it is one of my favourite perennials, I love everything about it, it’s colour, form, the way dew collects in the leaves, even it’s name! It looks good with so many plants and here we have it with hardy geraniums, lavender, euphorbia and soon the verbena will be poking through. I use it a lot in my floristry too.
Peonies are another all time fav but we only have a couple at present one of which is now in flower.
And remember those violas I planted up earlier in the month well, just look at their little smiley faces, I was not expecting to see them quite so soon!
So that was May and another record month of glorious sunshine which has been great but we must not forget the toll that takes on our water resources. We have a number of water butts for when we do get rain and as mentioned earlier really try to minimise watering once plants have become established and of course you do not need to water a lawn, no matter how dry and brown the grass looks it does always come back.
Below is how the garden is looking right nowAnd I have decided to end every post with a vase of flowers from the garden, or for as long as I possibly can. So below we have lupins, a garden rose, cow parsley, mint, nigella buds, scabious, rosemary and senecio.And on to flaming June!