Ok, so maybe I’ve been conned by a mixture of the need for space in the summerhouse along with the nice few days of weather but since we have got to the middle of May and the next 10 day forecast does not have the evening temperatures going below 7 degrees I can’t help but feeling that finally we have the Go for summer lift off and planting out. We have hopefully turned the corner and can now plant out more delicate plants and get into summer and gardening mode proper. The end of May is a special time for gardeners, finally crossing the threshold away from vests and frost (hopefully), everything looks wonderful, the contrast of greens in the hedegrows and woods, the sun glinting down through beech trees and the vegetable garden is filling up, even the bean row or wigwam is under construction. A sacred moment every year. Very akin to mayday celebrations.
The herbaceauos borders are also still looking neat and tidy with all the pereniial still in their ‘well behaved I can look after myself mode’ give it another couple of weeks when the flowers are out and we get some heavy rain and they flop and spread everywhere and everything looks like chaos if you haven’t done the staking prep work.
Despite everything being in growing mode it is still a crucial pruning time for those plants that have finished flowering. Forsythia and Amelanchier to name a couple. If you want to keep the flowering stems for next year you cannot prune them later in the summer when you suddenly look up and they have become triffid like. The time to act is now! Decide the maximum you want the plant to get by the end of the summer and then cut it back so it has enough room to grow into that size.
To make it easy to see how much your plant grew last year, taking Forsythia as an example, look at your plant, there are two different colours of stems, pale beige and a deeper brown. The deeper brown ones are the last years growth. this is how much your plant will grow this year. so you can use this as a guide for how much to prune this year. If your plant is too big take it back into the beige old wood to allow it enough room to grow without you ever having to touch it again til this time next year! You see how simple gardening can be if you do it right. If you prune severely give the plant a water with some miracle grow and give it a longer boost with a handful of grow more or a dollop of well rotted manure
Just a quick note on the lenticels on the stem, these are nothing bad but a means of gas exchange for the plant.
Isn’t it such a shame that just when your winter pots look so good its nearly time to replant them for the summer. if you leave them, by sometime towards the end of June they run to seed and look dreadful and all the garden centres have moved on from selling bedding plants and sadly are starting to think about Christmas trees!
The pub at the end of the road I was working on yesterday was very aptly named as they are just coming into full flower now. Shame the pub looked permanently shut. Henry Pochin planted a Laburnum tunnel in 1880 which still a wonder to behold if you find yourself near National Trust Bodnant Garden in Wales.
Veronica gentianoides is also catching my eye this week, out in all its glory either in the alpine bed or at the front of the herbaceous border. I have seen it paired very nicely with Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ but the photo eluded me. I did take one of it looking lovely with Ajuga, of which there are many, but my favourites to use are reptans atropurpurea or ‘Burgundy Glow’ with is creamy variegated leaves.
Halesia carolina , the snowdrop tree is also grabbing my attention at the moment, as it is in full flower. Grown as a small tree or large shrub, this one doesn’t seem to have read the label as it is very healthy looking but in the all the years I’ve know it it seems intent on staying about 3 foot high and spreading outwards. It is best grown in full sun but will take a little shade and needs shelter from strong winds. It is a deciduous plant named after S.Hales who was a Chemist,Inventor and Physiologist.
I have learnt this month that there is far too much to do and too much to write about in May and have struggled to rationalise what to include or not. Hopefully next week we can get round to the many things I have not yet covered and talk of the flower show and the Chelsea chop. Happy days in the Garden x