This month I’m finally taking the plunge, and joining the EOMV hosted by Helen to track the (hopefully rapid) changes in our garden now that we have the makings of our first partial ornamental borders.
There is still a lot of work to be done! However, the small planted section along the northern border of the garden is holding on despite the recent gail-force winds.
At the back, the oak-leaved hydrangea is looking a little floppy still, while the viburnum plicatum ‘Pink Sensation’ looks much more settled with three or four clusters of white flowers. In front of these is a motley collection of aquilegias which are rapidly coming towards the end of the season; some cosmos, gypsophila, cardoons and black tuscan kale all raised from seed; along with a white foxglove and at the front two small astrantias bought from local stands on market day. A small start, but promising…
On the other side of the border, I have been filling up the available space with a little more restraint.
The yellow rose towards the front left is starting to form buds, bringing promise of some sunny flowers to come. Elsewhere in this border I have planted various lupins, gypsophila, larkspur, dianthus barbata, echinacea purpurea, rudbeckia and some snapdragons raised from seed. These are mostly still small, although some of the echinacea were raised last year and have the first hints of flower heads. I planted two phlox paniculata and the ladybird poppy all bought at Malvern in this bed too, despite initially intending them to go elsewhere. With the strong drying winds and erratic rainfall they were starting to suffer a little in their pots, and it seemed sensible to plant them where I could, with a view to moving them later if desired when more space becomes ready for planting.
Back at the productive end of the garden, the month has seen more activity.
The salad leaves, lettuce, rocket, radishes, beetroot and ruby chard at the front of this middle bed are coming on well, and we have had regular salad pickings for some weeks now, accompanied by baby spinach leaves and watercress in pots by the greenhouse. The squash and sweetcorn are looking rather forlorn yet, and we suspect that planting them out so early has checked their growth quite a bit. Hopefully they should pick up soon! The row of dwarf French beans have not made much progress either, looking rather windbeaten and nibbled, so we sowed more this weekend in modules in the greenhouse just in case we need them.
The runner beans are putting on growth at last though, beginning to wind around their supports, and beside them the florence fennel and celeriac went in over the weekend. I have also been starting to add companion plants around the edges of this plot to bring colour, scent and herbs through the summer: calendula, borage, limnanthes, hyssop and nasturtiums.
A half row of further celeriac are planted out in the lower bed, between the row of parsnips, which is marked by emerging radish leaves, and a row of late broad beans still to appear along the edge. King of the Hill added a third cabbage cage at the end of this bed, and we have put out the spare pots of savoy cabbage, black tuscan kale along with pots of brussels sprouts and cauliflowers to harden off outside, still safe from the flickering cabbage whites, and free up space in the greenhouse now that the threat of frost is all but over.
More wood working skills were applied late yesterday afternoon by King of the Hill, to create this four-shelf staging to free up even more space in the greenhouse as the endless trays were making it a hazard to move in here! Another one should be constructed shortly to stand outside and hold the trays of plants for hardening off, as these threaten to clutter up the paths near the greenhouse. The tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and aubergines have a little more space to grow in here now without being flanked by quite so many trays of seedlings. Amazing how much space it all takes up.
King of the Hill was seduced by the flowers on our first early potatoes this weekend too, and dug up one of the plants for our first potatoes of the year.
They were still fairly small, but tasted wonderful lightly boiled – a sneaky taste of the delights to come. We must be patient now and let the rest of the earlies bulk up a little before our next harvest.
As the month draws to a close, things are starting to look good here, despite the rather unseasonal weather we have been experiencing. By the end of next month, we are expecting to see a lot of change, both structural and from the plants as they settle into their stride. Farewell to the merry month of May.