May Day has arrived and the Convent gardens are looking their best; first came the fabulous festoons of cherry blossom and now the bluebells, lilac and yellow laburnum lighting up the back wall.
Bluebells come in two main shapes and sizes, one is the native bluebell that we think of carpeting the Surrey woods in Spring.
The real deal (I think) at the Barnes Wetland Centre
The other is an imported Spanish bluebell that many garden centres sell. Unfortunately, the Spanish bluebell is cross breeding with the native one and producing hybrids which are quite vigorous, meaning that our native ones are on the decline. We have both sorts growing in the estate. If you’re inspired to plant some bulbs for next year then do seek out the native variety. Click here to find out how to tell the difference:
Time for planting
The growing season has begun and you might be thinking about what to plant in your garden or balcony. If you can plant flowers that bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects love then so much the better. As a rule, insects like to get straight to their target of the pollen rather than having to battle their way through multiple layers of petals (that plant breeders love to create for showy plants), so the simpler the flower, the better. Insects love all the herbs like lavender, oregano, sage, rosemary and large daisies etc. See here for plant list.
Planting in the shade
You might have a shady garden or spot and not sure what to plant. There are plenty of plants that are happy in the shade. Generally leafy plants that don’t flower or fruit do well. This You Tube link is a good one for a how to guide on choosing and planting shade tolerant ornamental plants.
If you’ve a shady spot and interested in veg growing then green veg like salads and root veg such as carrots will tolerate it well.
If you want to get started on veg gardening but want some more information on the how, what and where to plant, I have some handy sheets from the organisation Garden Organic which I’m happy to share, so give a yell if you’re interested.
Coping with drought
It has been the driest winter for over 20 years and there is muttering of possible water rationing, so if like me you have a balcony and need to grow everything in pots then its worth thinking about it.
Consider the material of the pots you choose. The black plastic ones heat up and dry out the quickest, the glazed ceramic and red plastic ones are slightly better but best of all are the traditional terracotta pots in retaining moisture and being slow to heat. Choose larger size pots and put broken pieces of terracotta pot in the base (to retain the water) before adding soil and plenty of compost. Sit them on saucers that will retain water.
If you have a garden then try not to leave bare soil but cover well with compost or a mulch which will help keep the moisture in.