Sunday, 3 May 2015



Early May is tulip time, and this year our dry warm spring has brought numerous other plants into flower. Our season is running at least two weeks behind normal as winter and early spring have been remarkably cool, though dry. Bulbs, rock garden plants, spring bedding plants and many spring flowering shrubs are now all competing with each other for the best display of flowers.

Snowdrops and aconites finished a long time ago and will soon be dying down so make sure you save seeds and scatter them to increase the size of drifts.
Anemone blanda is still in flower but soon they will also produce seeds for establishing bigger clumps. Daffodils, narcissi and tulips don’t spread from seeds so cut the seed heads off after flowering to save the bulbs energy for growing bigger before summer dormancy.
My earliest tulips started to flower in March with Scarlet Baby accompanying a bright yellow saxifrage. This lovely combination was also reflected a couple of weeks later with tulip Monsella and Red Riding Hood planted amongst a drift of golden herbaceous Doronicums. I intend to keep this theme going so next autumn there will be a drift of tulip Scarlet Baby getting planted amongst a large drift of blue pulmonaria.
Hyacinths have been outstanding planted and naturalised amongst my herbaceous plants. Timing is perfect as the hyacinths are in flower when herbaceous growth is only just beginning, and then they die down as the taller plants need the space.
A bed of peonies which will flower in early summer have now got an under planting of tall oriental and highly scented lilies. They will flower in mid summer and being quite tall will fit in with the peonies just fine.
Darwin Hybrid Tulips

Ground cover
Aubretia, phlox, doronicums and Japanese azaleas are now all at there best, and the spring bedding of wallflower, pansies and polyanthus are giving us a fantastic spring display. They are made all the more brilliant as this dry sunny weather has been fantastic for tulips which are lasting longer than usual.

Shrubs and trees
Forsythia and kerria have never looked better and now the scented viburnum carlesii and carlcephalum are in flower, but the best shows of colour are seen in numerous azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. However for size and impact it is hard to beat magnolias, especially varieties of Magnolia soulangiana. My garden is too small for this one so I grow the smaller Magnolia stellata. Cherries are now stealing the show as they have height as well as flowers. The upright form of cherry Prunus Amanogawa is perfect for the small garden and the flowers are scented as well as quite prolific.
Tulip Yokohama
Even my fruiting cherry Cherokee has given a great display. Other fruit trees such as pears, apples and peaches have all had a great time flowering profusely. This could be a great year for top fruit.

Wee jobs to do this week
Keep a check on recently planted vegetables and flowers and water if weather turns dry. Any plants such as salads or early strawberries under tunnels will need watering as rain will not reach them under the polythene.
Gooseberry bushes are prone to attacks from the sawfly maggots, but these are easily spotted and removed, but if there is a heavy infestation removal can be a bit messy. Not all gardening jobs are pure excitement. While on this topic it is worthwhile keeping an eye out for cabbage white butterfly maggots, as these are even bigger than the gooseberry sawfly, but removal just as essential.


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