May is a magical, most exquisite month. My Absolute favourite month of the whole year. Almost all the trees are back in leaf again, Some Ash are reluctantly still hanging on to dormancy. The Allims are on their way and my most favourite of the late flowering tulips are out and flourishing. Wisteria hysteria is starting to overtake us and Iris are starting the unstoppable march forward of the Herbaceous border from Pulmonaria and Brunnera through to Geraniums and Polemonium and onwards still.
It’s time for Wisteria to dazzle us with beautiful hanging racemes of pale lilac or white flowers. Make sure you inhale that amazing scent. It makes all the hard work from the January pruning worth while.
Is it a weed or is it a plant? Struggling to know if it is something that should be in the border or not, I just want to highlight a couple of examples which are quite tricky until you get your eyes trained. Firstly, Geum urbanum, wood avens. As this is a Geum if you do grow more choice Geums in the border you can be hesitant to pull this, very quick to spread. weed up. If you have a patch looking similar to the photos below this is the Geum to remove. Many separate plants in a small space instead of a Geum like borisii with its bright orange flowers which will spread as a clump and not carpet bomb a large area.
Next on my list is Broad Leaved or False Rosebay Willowherb, this pest does spread by seed but also vegetatively by clump forming. It is once it has got to this stage that it becomes confusing as it looks like it may be a plant that deserves its space in the border. Especially when that border contains either Penstemon or Phlox. Take a good look at all 3 together and you can see the differences.
Beech Hedges are a wonderous thing, and as they now start to unfurl their leaves one thing always amazes me, and you seem to notice it more with Beech, than any other type of hedging. It never comes out uniformly even over a relatively small run of hedge you always get one or two plants that come out really early or late.
English or Spanish Bluebells, Struggling to tell the difference between the two? wonder which you have in your plot? Spanish ones have flowers all the way round the stem and are larger and a paler blue. If you have proper English bluebells they are a thing to treasure and enjoy.
More signs of time dancing on towards the summer can be seen with the fruit trees as Pear blossom having done its job gives way to Apple. The baby Pears seem to have set well. Fingers crossed for the weather and temperatures to stay decent while the Apples set too.
Cercis siliquastrum, the Judas tree, so named as it is supposed to be the species of tree where Judas hung himself. Don’t let that put you off experimenting with this very handy alternative to a Cherry. I came across this tree when looking for a replacement for a Cherry tree that was taken out by Fireblight.
Another Cherry and a Hawthorn had also succumbed in the garden and I knew we could not risk planting anything else Rosacea but how to get spring blossom and Autumn colour. Cercis came to my rescue. It was a bit of a gamble in Ashbourne, deepest Derbyshire, as it usually flowers better after a good summer but without many options we took a chance and the tree has been in about 5 years now and is really starting to flower well. It is one of the easiest trees to plant and look after too as it prefers rubbish soil with no nutrients. as it grows one and half feet away from an established Yew hedge this was also very helpful when making the choice to grow it.
Last few of pointers from me then, I know Helleborus flowers still look pretty even as they are fading but they are a great host for greenfly. If you want the seeds just cut some seed heads off and leave them on the border but take most of them away now and you will be left with just the lush new green foliage which is a much better foil for the rest of the border. Secondly whilst you wander around the garden check the rampage of Ivy up your trees and shrubs. it will strangle them. if yo don’t have the time or strenght to get all the ivy off at least cut all the stems round the tree at an easy to get to point ad you will kill all the ivy further up.
Dead head your dandelions if you don’t have time to dig them out properly. At least you won’t get millions more by the time you can attack them. Finally then, Trees seedlings, take action now and pull them up whilst they are easy and don’t get left with a sapling growing out from the base of a prized shrub that you have to cut off every year. this will never end and the tree will only get bigger. Two seconds now will save many hours over the years.
Well, apologies for not doing justice at all to the fabulous start of May with this weeks blog and for definitely living up to the title of random thoughts of a gardener! too much to mention. Thanks to David Weber for the title of this weeks blog pinched from his lyrics in May Song. I promise to bring some special May sparkle next week. Happy days in the Garden x