The month has started with a few showers of much needed rain. The ground was so dry that in the Rose Garden wide cracks were appearing daily. A slight drop in the temperature gave us all a surprise, as we had thought summer had come along a little earlier than usual. But at least we have not had frost or snow, thankfully.
Spring has well and truly sprung with all trees, garden plants and weed plants bursting into growth. The seed sowing is well under way and with little damping off disease is being kept at bay with careful watering. About half of the seedlings have been pricked out into cell-trays or have been potted up. Much water has been given to the plants in the greenhouse and to the plants in the frameyard. The compost bins and the leaf bin also have been watered on a weekly basis to aid the rotting process.
Last October, the dahlia’s, ginger plant and the four o’clock plant - Mirabilis jalapa, were put into fairly dry compost in boxes and wrapped up in fleece and bubble wrap (nice and cosy) for the winter and put on the lower benches in the greenhouse. In late March these wraps were removed and the boxes were given a good soak and now the dahlia’s have many red shoots on them and the ginger plant has some nice fat buds forming also. The petunia’s (for the tubs in front of the House and in the Courtyard) have been hardened off and have been moved from the greenhouse into cold frames. Because of the very hard dry ground, nothing could be planted so sweet williams - Dianthus barbatus and Dames violet - Hesperis matronalis, that have been in bud for quite a few weeks, can now be planted into softer ground.
Jobs to do in the May garden
Staking, tying in, weeding, planting, pricking out seedlings, potting of plants and general tidying.
The garden is looking bright and beautiful with showy colours from the different varieties of tulip, primrose - primula vulgaris, our lovely deep purple honesty - Lunari annua, Lily of the Valley - Convallaria majus, London Pride - Saxafraga umbrosa, alpine strawberry - Fragaria vesca, Columbine aquilegia vulgaris, Lilac - syringa persica, Dutchman’s Breeches - Dicentra spectabilis, Milkmaids - Cardamine pratense, geranium phaeum, Snow Ball Bush - Viburnum opulus rosea, Leopards Bane - doronicum plantaganeum, veronica spicata, paeonia officinalis, perennial Cornflower, pot Marigold - calendul officinalis, geranium psilostemon, Dames Violet - hesperis matronalis, Red Hawthorn - crataegus “Paul’s Scarlet”, Sweet Woodruff - asperula adorata, viola cornuta, Heartsease - viola tricolor, English Bluebell - scilla non-scripta, Spanish Bluebell - scilla hispanica, various early flowering Old Roses, Hydrangea petiolaris and annual Pinks.
The Swallows were back on 21st April.
Celia Simpson - Gardener at Jane Austen’s House Museum