The sting was certainly in the tail of last month, my goodness there was some treachery, particularly around the middle of the month, when a watery sun offered thin disguise to a cruel wind, that cut through everything. Every other person drawn by the deception nursed a cold. The pollen was lively too, with Hazel and Birch catkins encouraged by the wind, throwing pollen in the direction of all. There was some conciliation though with cherries looking wonderful. Huge clusters of blossom hung from every branch and in support, the bold stands of tulips have been a delight. In fact bulbs generally have all performed well, but I am going to have to reduce the Grape Hyacinths. The tide of blue continues to sweep across every unplanted space.
But, enough reflection, it’s May the planting season for everything. All the bedding and all of the veg, will in the weeks ahead get into the ground. We need to tiptoe in the early days, avoiding the most frost sensitive items like begonias and Busy Lizzies as well as our beans and marrows, but steadily it can be done, with those tender things hanging on until the tail. In sheltered corners we can make up baskets and containers, bringing these to the fore as they become established. There are some great plants about and the continued development of the petunia family continues to impress me. Modern varieties that deliver every colour from terracotta to magenta, with flowers that can be anything from an inch to four inches across and may be speckled, dappled, crossed and striped. Nature’s paint box is something quite special. Enjoy the feast.
On the vegetable front, this selection continues to expand, fuelled by fancy eating and continental holidays, the public continues to search for more. Every garden centre now offers Chillis, Aubergines, round courgettes, baby cucumbers, oriental leaves, gourds and squashes and so much more. This year our adventure continues as we explore yet more tomatoes. We are playing with forty different varieties this year, exploring new shapes and colours. I have a long historical connection with tomato growing and in my early years cropped about 6,000 plants under glass every summer. My tip for growing a good tomato is to make the plant work, water away from the base of the plant to encourage good root spread and only feed the plant lightly. Lazy plants make lousy crops.
And finally, know that when you have found the plant that you like best, another is waiting. In the case of tomatoes more than 10,000 other cultivars.