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Gardens bursting with life

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Monday, 24th April 2023, 09:00

May is such a lovely month for spending time in the garden, and a good time to see wildflowers in the hedgerows and fields. Everything is fresh and green and bursting with life!

Clematis need constant tying in as they scramble up their supports. Use soft twine and tie in a ‘figure of eight’, being careful not to damage the delicate stems. They look superb growing up through climbing roses and shrubs, extending the season of interest, or flowering at the same time as their host, but with contrasting colours.

Try Sambucas racemosa ‘Sutherland Gold’ with a beautiful blue Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur’ growing through it, or a lovely Rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ with Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’ scrambling up it. If you choose late flowering clematis, the pruning is more simple as they are ‘Group 3’ and just need to be chopped off about 30cm high in early spring – very easy!

Give the clematis a spring feed with a high-potassium rose-type fertiliser gently forked into the soil surface, and then water and mulch – but don’t let the mulch touch the stems as it may rot them.

Harden off tender herbaceous plants

You should be able to start hardening off tender herbaceous plants, which you may have bought in the tempting indoor displays in the garden centres and nurseries.
This consists of a couple of weeks of taking them outside during the day, and popping them back into the greenhouse or conservatory at night, gradually leaving them for longer and longer until they are out all night. Keep an eye on the weather in case of frosts – we really shouldn’t get any this late on, but you can never truly trust the British weather!

You can make a cold frame out of old windows, Perspex off-cuts, etc. Place it in a warm, sheltered spot, raise the lid in the day to circulate the air and cover over at night if you have no greenhouse.

This month finds the gorgeous Dicentra, or bleeding heart, coming into flower. This is a shade-lover with elegant foliage and arching stems of heart-shaped flowers, which is a mainstay of the spring garden. The Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’ is my favourite with its beautiful white flowers.

Plant it in a sheltered position in dappled shade and mulch it annually with weed-free organic matter to keep it happy. The leaves die down in summer so don’t think you have killed it, but mark where it is so you don’t disturb it. It goes very well with any sort of fern.

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