What an incredible RHS Chelsea Flower show it was, a much better show for colour and garden design. The colour ‘fashions’ were deep purples, dark reds, sky blues and deep blues. Last year’s design trend seemed to be straight lines, boxes and rectangles, this year’s included far fewer straight lines and really clever uses of water, but possibly the most refreshing change we were seeing was an increase in younger garden designers, plant growers and TV presenters(!) which can only be a good thing as with the evidence on show it looks like the future of horticulture is in safe hands. Most plant nurseries or garden centres will still have plenty of plants to brighten up the garden.
Allotment or Vegetable Patch:
Check for signs of woolly aphid on fruit trees
Protect strawberries from birds by covering them with netting
Hang pheromone traps or bird feeders in apple and plum trees to control pests
Water strawberries and gooseberries to help fruits to swell
Stop cutting asparagus by the end of June to allow the ferns to form
Feed fruit trees and bushes with liquid sulphate of potash, such as a tomato feed
Feed tomato plants every time you water with a suitable fertiliser
In the Greenhouse:
Paint greenhouse glazing with ‘Coolglass’ to help with keeping temperatures down and reduce scorching to foliage
Water tomatoes regularly to help prevent fruit splitting
Try hanging sticky traps over plants to catch any whitefly
Important to water growbags and pots regularly, sometimes daily if needed in very warm weather
Take out side shoots of developing tomato plants
Liquid feed any planted up hanging baskets
Place pots of tagetes (you will find them with the bedding plants) near greenhouse doors to deter whitefly
If going on holiday this month, set up a watering area using a growbag tray and some capillary matting
General Garden Maintenance:
A great time to sow new lawns with grass seed – remember to water well during sunny weather
Feed the lawn with a suitable lawn fertiliser
Lower the blades of lawn mowers
Plant out container grown trees and shrubs – remembering to water well if there is a lack of rain
Cut back climbing plants that look straggly
Turn over and refill compost heaps to help composting process
Apply bark mulches around newly planted or established trees & shrubs to retain moisture and help suppress weeds
Look out for greenfly and blackfly developing on shrubs, perennials (mainly lupins) and roses, spray with a pesticide
Pick off dead flowering heads of rhododendrons and azaleas
Remove suckers from standard roses, ornamental and fruit trees with secateurs
To recreate your little bit of Chelsea, here are 3 you should include:
Clematis is a must have in the garden. Very versatile, they can be grown in a pot, used as a screen, grown through trees or used as ground cover. The hybrid varieties such as The President, Hagley Hybrid or Nelly Moser have big dinner plate sized blooms. The species varieties such as Tangutica and Alpine Constance have smaller flowers but masses of them. If you decide to grow one in a pot, pick a variety that grows no more than 6ft – Raymond Evison Clematis do a range that grow no more than 3 to 4ft which is perfect for a container. My personal favourites are Rebecca, Ice Blue, Oh La La, Cartmanni Early Sensation (evergreen – winter flowering) and this year’s new additions at Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea, Giselle & Samaritan Jo. If planting in the ground make sure the soil is well drained and the base of the clematis is shaded by a shrub or a very thick layer of bark.
One of the most popular plants featured in most of the gardens was a purple leaf Heuchera and one of my favourite varieties is Heuchera ‘Obsidian’. An evergreen plant with deep black leaves and white flowers in late May to June. Great for a container and mixed in with other herbaceous perennials in a border.
Fantastic plant that was everywhere at Chelsea in many different colours – but my recent favourite and Chelsea Flower Show winner 2012, Digitalis Illumination is completely sterile so this variety won’t set seed, giving it an incredibly long flowering period. Unlike most foxgloves which are generally biennial, this half-hardy semi-evergreen is a true perennial so you will be able to enjoy its flowers for years to come.