Well, you can probably understand why this blog is so late….May is full-on for all gardeners and landscapers, if we aren’t working now then something has definitely gone wrong with the business plan!


Your Garden Project has been:

  • Planting a 100 meter yew hedge near Woodbridge in Suffolk
  • Planting 3 giant Magnolia grandifloras, pleached Photinia hedging and 6 Chaemerops humilis in a very contemporary garden in West Hampstead
  • Clearing a wonderful 300 foot garden in Queens Park full of opportunities ready for a complete transformation. Concept designs in progress
  • Clearing with digger a small woodland area in a large garden in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire. Mulched with bark before mass Autumn bulb and Hellebore planting.
  • Measuring and quantifying a 5 week project commencing September at a beautiful country house in Suffolk
  • Replacing all the 20 year old container planting at a large first floor apartment overlooking Hampstead Heath
  • And then, there’s the fencing – 40 panels, trellises, masonry posts and gravel boards and 80 bags of postfix! Boundaries often require agreements from 3 parties and quotes we supplied last year are now coming to fruition…time to reconsider buying the post borer.



Chelsea was as always a lot of fun – out went the ornate tulips, angelica and pleached hedges and in came overgrown patches of meadow grass, cottage style planting with expensive hard landscaping materials (slate stacked vertically, polished white marble) and an abundance of naturalistic plant plans.

I enjoyed it but I think for me I need a bit more structure to things…probably an age thing. For me it was


Gold:                            Jo Thompson’s M&G garden (1)

Silver:                          Chris Beardshaw’s garden (2)

Bronze:                        Breakthrough Breast Cancer Garden (3)


Usually I spend a lot of time staring in wonder at the show gardens but this year I was more fascinated by what the big tent had in store, particularly some of the cottage garden plants. Two suppliers spring immediately to mind – Hardys Cottage Garden Plants from Hampshire and Culm View Herbaceous perennials Nursery in Devon.




Here were some of my favourites:

 Nepeta grandiflora “Summer Magic”

Nemesia aromatica and “Angelart Orange”

Amsonia cileata

Centaurea montana Alba

Primula japonica “Millers Crimson”

Physocarpus opulifolius

Cirsium rivulare atropurpureum

Silene fimbriata

Salvia “Dysons Joy”

Meconopsis “Barney’s Blue”

Polemonium yezoense var.Hidakanum “Purple Rain”

Geranium pyreniacum “Bill Wallis”




Here is a list of my favourite plants to consider for May interest:





Trees: (1)Laburnum x watereri “Vossii”, Prunus padus ‘Watereri’, Cercis siliquastrum




 Shrubs: Weigela, Deutzia, (2)Syringa vulgaris, Paeonia suffruticosa Kokuryu-nishiki, Ceanothus, Berberis thunbergii, Euphorbia x martini, Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’, Spiraea ‘Arguta’, Exochorda x macrantha, Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’, Tamarix tetrandra




Evergreens: (3)Choisya ternata, Camelia, Hebe pinguifolia, Osmanthus delavayi, Pieris, Pittosporum tenuifolium




Climbers: Clematis Montana var.grandiflora, (4)Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’, Wisteria floribunda, Lonicera periclymenum ‘Belgica’,

Perennials: Digitalis x mertonensis, Aquilegia’s, Corydalis flexuosa, Euphorbia characias subsp.wulfenii and myrsinites, Geranium maculatum, Geum ‘Mrs J.Bradshaw, Dicentra spectabilis, Epimedium, Lamium maculatum, Pulmonaria, Veronica gentianoides

Bulbs: Allium ‘Purple Sensation’, Camassia leichtlinii, Leucojum






General tasks:


  1. Beware of night frosts


  1. Hoe bare ground
  • Yes that really is the best tool to stem the tide of germinating weeds
  • Add fertilizer to areas you intend to use for bedding plants


  1. Pruning and renovation
  • Cip Thuja, Box, Yew Beech and Hornbeam hedges (and again in Early September)
  • Begin regime of every 6 week trimming for privet, honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida)
  • Prune early flowering shrubs like Kerria japonica and Spiraea ‘Arguta’
  • Prune Clematis Montana after flowering
  • Cut back Arabis, Alyssum and Aubretia
  • Prune ornamental cherry trees after flowers have faded


  1. Tying back and support
  • Support perennials using supports that are half the eventual height of the plant
  • Tie in climbers and cut back those shoots that are growing away from the walls


  1. Lawn treatment
  • Feed lawn if not done in April
  • “Spot’ remove weeds
  • Mow lawns weekly but avoid cutting too low in dry periods


  1. Planting
  • Plant and train sweet peas
  • Plant up containers and hanging baskets towards end of month (see blog on Quick tips)
  • Plant up pot grown Dahlias
  • Sow hardy annuals direct into soil at end of the month e.g. Eschscholzia, Limnanthes, Nigella and nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
  • Dig up and dry off tulip bulbs to make way for your summer bedding


  1. Protection:
  • Watch out for ants! They can really mess up your lawn and take over if you ignore them this month. Flood aea regularly with cold water (not hot as it also kills the grass!). If you have loads on your patio area plant pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) as they hate it with a passion.
  • Slugs and snails – particularly around your containers. Smear crop protection jelly around the top of the container to prevent the wines slipping in and eating all your hard work
  • Vine weevil – These are the pests that leave your evergreens with notches and nibbles around the edges. There are pesticides out there to rid you of these but act early or lose the roots as well as the leaves to their dinner.


EVENTS CALENDAR – my selection

 Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants –

I was so impressed by this lot in the tent at Chelsea that I would recommend everyone to head down to Hampshire. They stock more than 1200 species and cultivars including many rare plants.

Priory Lane Nursery, Freefolk Priors, Whitchurch, Hants, RG28 7NJ


 RHS Garden Wisley – My favourite southern RHS garden. Everything all clearly marked up for the enthusiast and for others it is just a sheer joy to meander through ingenious planting designs.

Wisley, Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB

0845 2609000


RHS Garden Hyde Hall – 24th June 11am – 1pm

Gardening for wildlife.

Discover how to attract more insects, birds and mammals into your garden.

Creephedge Lane, Rettendon, Chelmsford, Essex, CM3 8ET



Happy gardening!