The summer has landed…well, at least for the last two weeks. The much needed heat finally brought all the spring bulbs out into full bloom. The colour scheme this spring was mainly based on a red, white, dark pink and yellow colour scheme.
Tulip ‘Van der Neer’, Bellis ‘Carpet White’ and Tulip ‘Colour Cardinal’ were the strongest varieties this spring. We also planted a new heritage variety of Scilla in our Herbaceous Border for early colour and Scilla peruviana, dating back to 1753, worked out well and looked very delicate in between other herbaceous plants.
Pic1 Tulip ‘Van der Neer’ in the Parterre
Pic2 Tulip ‘Colour Cardinal’ in front of the Vinery
Pic3 Scilla peruviana
The very wet conditions which we experienced last winter and spring did not help with the full development of the annual spring bedding plants like Forget-me-nots or our wall flowers. The Forget-me-nots in particular were unfortunately lacking in flower abundance compared to other years. But there you go, a gardeners job is always very challenging and never the same. Adaptation is a key element in a successful gardener’s life cycle.
Our summer bedding plants are well on the way and a few were already planted into their final positions. Calendula ‘Orange King’, an old heritage variety dating back to the 19th century, is one of the best and easiest growing summer annuals. I am planning to make my own Calendula hand cream this year, using the flower petals of this variety and of the common one, Calendula officinalis. Well, at least that’s the plan, the same one I already had last year….
Pic 4 Calendula officinalis in between Cabbage ‘Red Drumhead’ in 2015
Pic5 Fresh Seaweed on out Brassica plot
Pic 6 New lettuce plants mulched with coffee ground (hardly visible)
May is always the busiest time of the year in our garden. Taking out spring plants; drying, cleaning and storing the bulbs; replanting the summer bedding on mass into exact locations; cultivating the whole vegetable garden; starting to trim our hedges like Buxus, Escallonia, Fuchsia and Acer; sowing and potting on, weeding…the list is endless. Sometimes, especially on a rainy day there is no end in sight. This year we tried out a few alternative methods to keep pests like slugs or the cabbage root fly under control. A heavy layer of fresh seaweed, spread in between the new Cabbage plants will hopefully do the trick to keep the root fly away. I know that the use of seaweed is an ancient tradition, especially around here in Connemara but we haven’t used fresh seaweed for a long time within the garden walls. Going through very old Horticultural books I came across an article about the threaded cabbage root fly, which will result in loss of your Cabbage plants through eating of the roots. You only notice the damage when it is too late and the plant is withered. The positive side effect of the seaweed application is the natural fertilizing of the plants. We have not seen our seedlings as big and healthy for many years; despite the wet and cold spring.
Pic7 Vegetable Garden in full swing
We also started to use coffee grounds around fresh seedlings, vegetables and bedding, to keep the slugs away. I always heard about this remedy but never thought it would work out so successfully. We have a daily supply of new coffee grounds from our Teahouse outside the garden walls, so we actually use a side product which would be normally dumped, as slug control and again as a fertilizer. The results are phenomenol! Our usage of slug pellets was reduced by 2/3.
Pic8 Flowering Azaleas
That’s all for now, I am back with more news next month!
Your Head Gardener
Things you can do in your garden in May:
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Sow Carrots and Parsnips
~ Sow more radish and lettuces
~ Take softwood and non-flowering cuttings of Fuchsia and Pelargonium
~ Take softwood cuttings of shrubs
~ Start to plant out summer bedding in final position and protect against slugs (try coffee ground)
~ Transfer leeks outside into final position
~ Plant Tagetes and Calendula as companion plants between your crops to attract beneficial insects
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Aerate and sand lawns if not done earlier
~ Trim formal hedges of Buxus, Fuchsia or Escallonia and feed them
~ Dead head flowers of spring bulbs like Tulips for strong flower displays next year
~ Watering of new crops and bedding is essential in dry periods
~ Put up supports on taller perennials, broad beans and sweet peas
~ Prune spring flowering shrubs like Weigelia or Forsythia after finishing flowering