Carol Klein suggests some garden tasks for May

Exuberant growth makes May the most boisterous and exciting month of the whole gardening year. Carol Klein lists a few essential tasks for the month ahead as part of her ongoing series A Year at Glebe Cottage.

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Exuberant growth makes May the most boisterous and exciting month of the whole gardening year. Carol Klein lists a few essential tasks for the month ahead.

 

Staking poppies
Staking never has first priority here – there are so many strong plants living cheek by jowl, and most of them look after themselves and each other. On occasions, though, it is essential to lend a helping hand. Papaver orientale ‘Beauty of Livermere’ is the tallest and most flamboyant of all the oriental poppies. It achieves this height rapidly, on occasions reaching way above my head. Just in the nick of time I dash in with stakes, most of them cut from our hazels, and, having tied it together in a framework, I chop the stakes back below the poppies’ huge red flowers.

Lining out tulips
Tulips in terracotta pots stand all around the garden; as they start to fade they are whipped away to the nursery, taken out of their pots and lined out into shallow trenches for the bulbs to gather back energy
and sustenance from the dwindling foliage. Although their elongated seedheads are entrancing, they
must be removed to prevent them depleting the bulbs’ energies.

Planting up pots
Big square pots stand above the steps on the open side of the garden. Always in full view, they are a good place to experiment with new planting ideas. Now the tulips have been lifted there’s the opportunity to plant again for summer and beyond. This year I’m keeping it simple, using masses of Gladiolus murielae. Their straight, sword-like leaves and exquisite scented white flowers should be spectacular.

Look out for...
Ranunculus aconitifolius is the spirit of May, especially in its double form. It’s shorter than the elegant, willowy single form but intensely frothy, with blizzards of white pom-poms covering the bushy plants so thickly that the handsome dark green leaves are almost hidden from view. It loves substantial soil, as heavy as you like, and tolerates shade, though it reaches its glory before the canopy fills in overhead.

 

Find the full text in issue 173
This is part of an ongoing series from Carol Klein following a year in her garden at Glebe Cottage. In each issue she reflects on the garden's highlights and the jobs in hand as we move from season to season.

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