I make no apology for starting once again with the weather, it really is quite extraordinary how variable it is and how, more commonly, we have long spells of either wet or dry. Last month gave us 25 days without rain coupled with strong winds and some very pleasant high day temperatures. The result was of course that our soggy wet ground became concrete, new plantings needed watering and working the soil became very difficult. We also suffered some nasty night frosts and I have seen quite a lot of damage to new growth on some perennials and shrubs. We’re now back into gales and rain with night frosts forecast for the end of the week. I don’t know how we gardeners cope let alone the poor plants! It will be such a shame if the plants flowering now, particularly the Magnolias and Wisterias, are turned into a brown crisp by frost. We’ve already lost the Cherry blossom to the strong winds as is so often the case.
The spring blossom is bountiful, try and look out for the Amelanchier canadensis grown as a small tree or shrub. The pretty blossom and new leaves look great and the bonus is great autumn colours. Crab apples are great value little trees with a multitude of blossom and variety of leaf colours. Upright or weeping there’s a place for one in every garden - with the added bonus of acting as a pollinator for your apple trees, and winter interest.
Among the vast Prunus family, the flowering cherries are all familiar to us for their masses of spring blossom. Check out Prunus Amanogawa a very upright, narrow tree, and Prunus Pissardii Nigra, the ‘Purple-leafed Plum’. For shrubs the Prunus cistena Crimson Dwarf is very pretty and makes a good hedge, and the Viburnum burkwoodii is now carrying the most fragrant blossom you could imagine.
We are selling lots of summer bedding and basket plants now - due to popular demand - but remember there is a risk of frost until the end of May. We are busy planting up the hundreds of baskets we fill and re-fill each season, they will mature and blossom in our greenhouses ready for collection by customers towards the end of the month.
Most trees, shrubs and perennials are now showing their foliage so pop along to your local Nursery or Garden Centre where you can choose the right combination of form, leaf colour, flower colour and height and spread for your particular beds and borders. Always plant with an appropriate compost, water in and mulch around the surface.
I have been asked for ideas for plants to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Shrubs with gold foliage include Spiraea ‘Goldflame’ and ‘Goldmound’, Euonymus ‘Emerald ‘n Gold’, Eleagnus ‘Limelight’, Forsythia ‘Golden Times’, Choisya Ternata ‘Sundance’, Philadelphus ‘Coronarius Aureus’, Catalpa ‘Bignonioides Aurea’ and Berberis thunbergii ‘Aurea’. Best trees would be Fraxinus Excelsior ‘Jaspidea’ (Golden Ash), Gleditsia Triacanthus ‘Sunburst’, Ulmus Wredei Aurea (Golden Elm) and Robinia Pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ - a lovely idea to mark this special occasion.
And so to the tips for the month:- Plant up borders and beds, and baskets and tubs under protection, top up mulches of bark and woodchip - they need to be at least 50mm thick - and gravel on drives or patios, the fresh gravel or bark really puts a finish on things and as usual most important of all, keep on top of the weeding and water well in dry weather.