In love with life

Gardening_in Love with life- Jim oD

As the days get longer and the nights shorter, nature unfolds in all its beauty and we are once again in love with life. Surrounded by land that is covered in green, it is leaf again, light again, life again.

In the theatre of the gardening world in which I have a permanent seat, at this time of year I see pictures of incredible beauty as nature busies herself preparing for the Summer months. There is lots to do in your garden at this time of year and plenty of tasks to keep us busy. So let me offer a few words of advice as you prepare to welcome Summer.

April and May are months of sunshine and showers. Growth is rapid, apple blossom, tulips, cherries, lilacs and an increasing array of flowers fill our gardens. Lilacs are synonomous with May and we will soon see the regal magnolias battle with the rhododendrons and azaleas for our attention. It is good to remember that in all fruit growing areas we are soon approaching the main honey flow of the year, bees are busy among the blossoming in the trees so be careful about spraying.

The beautiful camellias will continue to flower until late May, use plenty of ericaceous compost when planting these magnificent plants which also do very well in large containers. Prune the forsythia after flowering as this flowers on new wood. To encourage it to make plenty of new growth Winter jasmine will also benefit from this pruning. This is a good time for planting shrubs, conifers and hollies in containers and open ground.

For those of you who would like some scented climbers try the lovely CLEMATIS MONTANA ELIZABETH and CLEMATIS ARMANDII. These will cover dark walls and any garden eye sores. They are long flowered and scented. LONICERA HALLIANA and JASMINE OFFICINALA are lovely scented plants and don’t forget sweet pea and many roses. When planting these, incorporate plenty of compost and apply a general fertiliser, water aswell. There is a huge interest in growing plants in containers. Great pleasure can be had from creating and looking after a small or large group of planted pots. You can grow vegetables in containers and dwarf fruit trees, cherry tomatoes, Spring and Summer bedding and all kinds of shrubs. Raise the pots up on bricks to enable good drainage. Keep in mind that planted containers are entirely dependent on you for their care, watering and feeding are very important especially in Summer time.

Remove faded flower heads from hydrangeas. In the open continue to sow hardy annuals such as COSMOS CLARKIA, LARKSPUR, SWEETPEA and CALENDULA. Prepare the ground well and apply a general fertiliser. Grow the bright and breezy sunflowers, children will love them. Dwarf forms are available. Sow them directly into the ground. Continue to cut your grass regularly. Sow grass seed and lay turf, and apply a Spring feed to your grass and water regularly.

Plant lillies as soon as possible and grow blueberries in containers, fill the pots with ericaceous compost. It is best to plant two close to each other to help pollination. No pruning is required for several years. Use an ericaceous feed or tomato feed during the growing season to help the fruit develop.

In the vegetable garden SOW, PLANT, HOE; beetroot, carrots, turnips, these are the mainstay of the vegetable garden. Successional sowing of all vegetables in recommended. Earth up potatoes, plant cabbage, sprouts, cauliflowers. Sow white runner beans, white lisbon onions and all salad crops. Once the threat of frost has passed plant outdoor tomatoes. These need regular watering and feeding.

Towards the end of May sow in the open ground; wallflowers, caterbury bells, sweet william, myosotis, all are intended for Spring bedding. As june approaches it is time to think of the floral pageant of Summer. June is the month of the roses, geraniums, marigolds, petunias, begonias and flower beds of beautiful colours, hanging baskets and window boxes. Soon we will welcome the return of the beautiful butterflies to our garden so make sure you have at least one shrub of the butterfly bush BUDDLEIA.

So welcome the joy inspired by nature’s rebirth and look forward to greeting the queen of the flowers the rose as she reigns supreme all Summer. It is incredible that anyone could think that all this happens, that there is no mastermind, no God. For me I recall a quote I came across that is attributed to one Frank Lloyd Wright, “I believe in God only I spell it nature.”

By Jim O’Doherty