Growing plants, comparing plants, writing about plants.
The world of plants is vast and can be daunting, but the pleasure of gardening is in learning what works; for you, for your garden and for the natural world around you. There’s no right or wrong, no better or worse, you’re free to decide for yourself what to grow.
Join me in an exploration of plants. I’ll be making visits to different gardens, nurseries, trade and public plant shows throughout the year, where I’ll be looking at the plants being grown and sold so that I can share ideas that you might want to try in your own garden. I’ll also be writing about vegetable growing on my allotment, and I’ll be updating this website with some of the many new introductions that come onto the market.
May and June
Gardens really start to come alive in late spring and early summer. Growth is so fast you almost feel you could stand and watch it. Fruit blossom progresses from the early flowering plums and cherries to the later spring blossom of apples and pears. Spring bulbs fade fast to be replaced by the bigger, showier blooms of early summer. Peonies and irises might be short lived but they’re spectacular while they last. Roses are just as spectacular and last longer, though they often look their best in June. That first flush is always the biggest and the leaves are greener and healthier than they are later in the year.
There are so many shrubs and small, garden-sized trees that are at their best in May and June, too. Cornus kousa, amelanchier, acers, many of which have as much if not more colour in their leaves in spring than they do in autumn, cistus, various viburnums (top of my wish list currently are the snowy (or pink!) blooms of the elegantly tiered Viburnum plicatum), philadelphus, deutzia, ceanothus, escallonia, pyracantha and ribes to name just a few. Plus, of course rhododendrons, which have been having a fantastic year from what I’ve seen of them, and I’m not always their biggest fan.
There’s so much promise at this time of year. The days are long and there is much more of the summer to look forward to. As long as we get some good weather!
In my own garden the borders started to fill out at lightening speed as soon as the weather warmed up, taking us from what still felt like winter to high summer almost overnight. Apart from getting things tied in and propped up where needed, and adding a few new plants into their spaces (a bit of a task in my overcrowded garden), the pot rotation has begun.
It’s a small garden with a big privet hedge along most of one side – the sunny side. I used to have a bed that ran half the length of that side of the garden, but it was a real pain trying to cut such a big hedge with plants growing right up next to it. The garden is only around 3m wide so there’s no way I can leave a gap between bed and hedge. The answer was to break up the bed into V shaped sections that point into the garden, interspersed with gaps where I’ve put paving stones. Pots sit on the paving stones. Some of them contain plants that flower for much of the summer while others get swapped around as the colour comes and goes.
To make the most of the space in the borders I use bulbs (and corms) a lot because they don’t take up much room for most of the year, so I’ve had camassias, tulips and alliums in flower which will be replaced by lillies, crocosmia and some gladioli. I also garden upwards, so I’ve also got quite a few climbing roses and clematis covering the fence on the other side of the garden and these are coming into their own now.
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