May in the garden

And just like that, the first quarter of the year is over and we’re now looking at May in the garden – where does time go? The recent mix of sunshine and showers has made everything green up almost overnight and lots of flowers are beginning to burst into life at last. Like the delicate pale pink honey scented flowers on our Japanese cherry tree in the cover picture – I’ve been picking a few sprays for bedside posies and the fragrance is just beautiful.

What's flowering now?

Our new jasmine plant in its pot by the front porch is wafting heavenly fragrance over visitors and us whenever we open the door. Masses of tulips are beginning to open up, and both our white and pink perennial dicentra spectabilis are looking wonderful. Our summer snowflakes are still nodding away by the pond, and now that the daffodils are going over, the bluebells are starting to open up in the orchard. And our biennial honesty plants are really brightening up a rather shady flower bed.

Potting on, hardening off, planting out

All the seeds we sowed in February have been potted on into larger pots (you’ll know when it’s time to do this as their roots will start poking out the bottom of their original pots or coir pellets). And I’ve planted out our cornflower seedlings into one of our raised flower beds where I grow flowers specifically for cutting.

I’m playing hardball with the slugs and snails this year though, any new or young plants go in the ground with a scattering of blue pellets around them. I’ve tried various non-bio methods in previous years and lost far too many young plants and a lot of hard work. Sadly, nothing is as effective as the little blue tabs, it’s not ideal but sometimes you just have to go with what works.

Now that the weather and soil is warming up, I’ve been leaving the greenhouse door open all day and night to acclimatise and harden off our other seedlings (sweet peas, cerinthe, dill) which have come on in leaps and bounds, before they get planted out shortly.

Flower seeds to sow

As I mentioned last month, if it’s warm enough for weeds to grow, it’s warm enough to start sowing seeds outside too. Last year I sowed some wildflower seeds on a patch of bare ground at the back of our summerhouse and both I and the bees were delighted with the results. So I’ve done it again this year, with a different mix – watch this space :)

I’ve got some white and purple foxglove seeds for a shady border and purple poppy seeds for a sunny patch and they’ll be going into the ground shortly. I could have started them out in module trays earlier this year but life’s too short, I’m going to scatter them direct where I want them to grow and see what happens. And I’m going to try growing some edible flowers for the first time too – I found a box of seeds in Sainsbury’s recently, it’s a mix of nasturtiums, violas, calendulas, marigolds, and lettuce. Hopefully we’ll have some colourful summer salads later this year!

Vegetable seeds to sow

Now’s the perfect time to sow peas and we have two lots: some left over from our April Mud and Bloom box and some that came with a recent Innocent smoothies pack purchase. Flora loves helping with this and her other job will be finding suitable sticks to plant alongside to train the young plants up as they start growing.

We’ll also plant some carrots (tip: buy seed tapes, it makes life so much easier as the seeds are already spaced out for you) and some spring onions. Another tip: plant the carrots and onions in alternate rows so the onions mask the carroty smell and the dreaded carrot fly doesn’t come and eat your baby root vegetables.

Planting perennials