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Getting in earlier this month.
For us this is a month of watering, weather permitting, staking veg and sometimes cut flowers, cutting flowers, planting biennials for next spring, cooing over 2 cucumbers and a melon growing in the office window (deliberately) and a few good garden visits. It is also the month, here in the south of the UK when we can all but assume the frosts are gone and out can go the tenderish veg plants and flowers.
We grow tomatoes outside mainly because there is no green house and there is nothing as good as a fresh plucked home grown tomato still warm from the sun, tasting mercifully nothing like the watery tasteless imitations bought from supermarkets. This year there are some cucumbers too which although ‘happy outside’ varieties have taken up a happy residence in the office window and are merrily twining themselves about anything in a fixed position including one another.
Also planted out is the sweetcorn in soldierly rows with borlotti beans at their toes (4 each) and so many courgette and squash plants surrounding them I am thinking I might need to book a stall on the local farmers market to shift them all. Regular sowings of salad, carrot and beetroot are a good way to ensure supply and reduce gluts. I found a packet of mixed beetroot in my seed box (bit like the tardis, bigger than it looks on the inside) which includes Golden and Chioggia (red stripey variety) so am looking forward to grating them into salads and perhaps making a pickle or two.
If you’re the hanging basket type your baskets can probably go outside with a bit of acclimatising of course. I don’t have room at the moment but am encouraging friends and clients to plant up soon to be bushy, busting at the seams baskets of magic. It is the time to lift and divide overcrowded clumps of snowdrops and bluebells, replanting at the same depth. Deadhead you daffs and your tulips but leave the leaves in position until at least 8 weeks after flowering so the bulb can build up enough ooommff to put up flowers next year.
Prune some of those spring flowering shrubs. I’ll be tackling a very overgrown Choysia and a Deutzia early in the month both of which respond to pruning after flowering. Later in the month, maybe even into July there’s a tall cascading Philadelphus that needs some editing
I’m still sowing annuals, late as it may seem, a few Cosmos to replace those mauled by slugs, more Dill and even some Ammi. A few biennials are going into the now empty cold frames. Digitalis (Foxglove) Apricot and Alba for a woodland patch developing at the top of the plot, Campanula (Bell Flower) and Lunaria (Honesty), wonderful Hesperis (Sweet Rocket). It feels like getting in early planting now for next years blooms.
It is or very soon will be Sweet Pea picking time. Mine are romping up the bean pole stakes, this year I am determined to pick more frequently last year every week simply wasn’t enough to keep on top of them.
Last but never least in my book are the statuesque Tall Bearded Iris that have made a later than usual appearance. They look best in groups of 3 or more, which is a big area I know but the morning that they burst into flower will take your breath away. If you only have space for one PLEASE make it something more exotic than Iris Jane Phillips!
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