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Last Month in My Garden, May 2018


Magnificent May! It has been sunny and warm and trees have blossomed in abundance. Although my main interest is in hardy perennials, when a tree is in flower it dominates the garden. One such has been a hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, in my boundary hedge; the blossom lasted for nearly three weeks and it had a strong scent. Hawthorns outside the garden were also excellent and the common was awash with cow parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris .

Laburnum anagyroides

Old Hills Common


For the first time, I noticed flowers on Lonicera nitida. When I moved here, there was a hedge of this around a large part of the garden; I did not like it and was pleased when a severe winter killed most of it. (It might have been able to regenerate but I did not give it a chance.) This year’s flowers did not last long but they have probably not occurred before because I have pruned harder. Holly, Ilex aquifolium, is another shrub with small insignificant flowers but these, of course, lead to prominent berries. The flowers of Rubus spectabilis ‘Olympic Double’ are showy but I have a love-hate relationship with it: in hot weather, the flowering period has been short and the plant runs – a lot! I would not recommend it for most gardens – better to plant a rose. The photo shows it with Euphorbia griffithii ‘Dixter’; this is not an intentional combination. Before I planted the rubus (~2000), I dug up all the euphorbia and moved it. It has been dug out at least twice more but is deep-rooted and, as you can see, difficult to eradicate; the real problem is that the roots run under a rose.

Ilex aquifolium

Lonicera nitida

Rubus spectabilis ‘Olympic Double’

Following my success with patio pots last year, after years of little effort, I planted some up on May 14th. After only a week, they were respectable and by two weeks were looking good. I am expecting an explosion of growth! I hope that I have chosen self-cleaning plants; I have avoided cosmos because they need frequent dead-heading. Petunias feature in all the pots; they are supposed to need sun but white ones, with white argyranthemums and busy lizzies, show up well in a shady corner.

May 15

May 29

May 15

May 29

The most abundant plants in the borders have been self-sown Hesperis matronalis, Sweet Rocket or Dame’s Violet. However, I have derived even more satisfaction from the candelabra primulas, which grow in a boggy area at the end of the pond. I began planting them a few years ago and they were slow to get going but have now multiplied and established well. The original plantings were Primula beesiana and Primula japonica ‘Apple Blossom’, ‘Postford White’ and ‘Miller’s Crimson’. The last two have also been successful in a damp border.

Hesperis matronalis with
Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla ‘Eva’

Candelabra Primulas

Geranium phaeum

There are many self-sown geraniums: below the kitchen window, is a group of Geranium phaeum. I have not planted any phaeum in that area but I do leave potted plants nearby and the original seed must have come from there. In a short time (3 or 4 years), they have made a colony with different shades of dark purple but also one that is almost white. Even one of my poppies, Papaver orientale ‘Mrs. Perry’, has seeded, although only a little and after many years; I usually dead-head them but must have been lax one year. The seedlings are attractive but more slender than the parent and lack its impact.

Papaver orientale ‘Mrs. Perry’

Margaret Stone

Posted by Margaret Stone

Vist Margaret's garden on one of the NGS open days.

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