I make no apology for beginning each month with comments on the weather, it is, after all, so important to gardeners, and how super it has been to enjoy some warm dry weather during May. Surprisingly perhaps, some rain would be very welcome because, as always, the wetter our Cambridgeshire clay gets the harder it drys out. Steady, warm, overnight rain is best with sunny warm days - if only!
Increasingly our landscaping teams are installing irrigation in gardens and usually low volume micro irrigation is the preferred choice. It is economical to install and to run. Apart from taking away the task of watering it is particularly useful when you are away, and a boon for hanging baskets and containers. Mulching is a good way of saving water. Well rotted manure is best because it also contains nutrients, but woodchip, mushroom compost or home made compost are also good. A simple idea is to use your lawn clippings around the base of shrubs and trees, it works well and gets rid of them!
Now that the danger of frost has passed, our customers are collecting the hundreds of hanging baskets we re-plant annually. They look magnificent as they mature in our greenhouse awaiting collection, and enhance any home with their bright summer colours. If you prefer to plant your own baskets, consider incorporating a water retaining gell and slow release fertilizer in your compost. It does make a difference, and if you need to buy a new basket, go for the plastic types with an integral water reservoir. They are much easier to look after than the traditional wire baskets.
Itís also safe to plant your beds and borders with Summer bedding to give that vivid splash of colour, and those with small gardens can produce the same effect with pots and tubs.
Itís a good time to visit your local Nursery or Garden Centre, many shrubs and perennials are flowering now and you can purchase to fill the odd gap in your garden or make notes for future plans or re-organisation. If planning a new border, begin with a backbone of shrubs including some evergreens to provide interest when the majority of perennials have died down, Viburnums, Euonymus, Eleagnus and Weigela are good. Include old faithfuls like Lupins, Delphiniums, and Kniphofias. Roses, Cistus and Choisya are good for fragrance, and look for interesting leaf forms and colour for added interest such as Eryngiums, Rodgersia, Heuchera and Lobelia Cardinalis. There are hundreds of plants to choose from and you can have great fun browsing and getting ideas.
Thanks to those who have sent e-mails and comments. Next month I shall, by popular request, be talking about Patios, Ponds and other garden features