April rolled into May and the treacherous weather continued with frost across 18 consecutive days eventually easing around the 10th. It was all very testing and damage was varied and widespread. I was really saddened by the demolition of the Magnolia blossom which had only just shown itself. I had Antirrhinums knocked back to two inch stumps by one particularly spiteful temperature drop.
Most things do recover, though anybody with early beans or tomatoes will be replanting. It is always very chancy to have them in the ground before late May. But as we turn into June things change and we hope the weather will be more consistent or at very least less cold. It’s festival time, a jamboree, something of a free for all, when you can plant more or less what you like. Borders can be planted out with summer bedding, which with little extra work will bring joyous colour until October. There will be plenty to choose from too, with most centres still having a comprehensive selection and there are plenty of new introductions to look out for. Following in the wake of the success of Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ ( a gloriously tantalising red and white bow of a flower) the family has extended, the series running to include blue, purple, pink and salmon. Plants are all robust and prolific. Look out too for the new hardy border Gerbera’s which will are also offered in a wide range of colours and try your luck with Gaura. My favourite of last year, this graceful, arching plant is a joy, it’s branches dripping with pink shell like flowers. There are also some very good herbaceous plants around this year and I have been really sold on Irises, which I think are set to put on quite a show. Of course no sooner are we underway with one seasonal show, than we are considering the next. You can be sowing seed this month to raise your own winter pansies, wallflowers and biennials like sweet William. On the vegetable front there is also plenty to plant, all the usual summer vegetables can go out and if you fancy something different then chillies and aubergines are great to try. So, the door is open get playing.
And finally. My big experiment this year is with soya. There has been much interest in this crop, it’s certainly popular with vegans. It seems straightforward and there are plenty of recipes about. I will keep you posted.