Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
THE Chelsea Flower Show run by the RHS (rhs.org.uk/Chelsea) is probably the most famous of all the flower shows and sometimes considered as a must do pilgrimage to be undertaken at least once by any keen gardener.
Chelsea runs for four days (May 24-28) and its popularity is such that, in my opinion, it should be only undertaken by the fit and able person as the crowds combined with the usual heat make this a very tiring experience. Alternative venues of equal merit are other RHS organised shows held in the UK, which are much more enjoyable and relaxing. There is also an Irish show called Bloom (Dublin) which is on in June.
There is a sort of posh term called the ‘Chelsea Chop’, which means cutting down large growing herbaceous perennials around the time of the Chelsea Show to stop them flopping over later in the season as after pruning they will re-grow and flower with sturdier stems later in the summer.
Tall growing perennials need staking which is a nuisance but unavoidable in the past but there are newer selections in many types which are naturally lower growing and I should think that is the way forward.
No Mow May
I do like the idea behind the ’No Mow May’ option, which started in 2019 and is gaining support around the world, but I think it has not been well thought out or it was inspired by people not intertwined fully with nature and gardening. May is not a scarce month for pollinating plants and lawns grow rampant at this time of year. If left uncut for the month of May, it will require a serious effort to get the grass into shape again unless you intend to get Ross Poldark with his scythe to do the deed!
As some regular readers might remember we do not have a manicured lawn and are quite happy that it contains many wildflowers. We cut the lawn until the surge of growth slows down around the end of June and then leave it longer, which allows the whole area to be transformed into a wildflower meadow until the autumn. I would suggest the trend for letting open spaces outside the home base to grow wild flowers is a better option for most people with smaller gardens.
It is a fact that a well-stocked up garden with a wide variety of plants is one of the best habitats for wildlife and, happily, the plants we usually like are those that wildlife enjoy too. We avoid those plants that have double flowers, which are much less useful to pollinating insects. In our garden single flowers are the ones we have planted extensively.
It is the prime time to get plants into the garden in whatever form you like, such as the ground and containers, but definitely give it your best shot in preparing and caring for the plants, especially for the first few months. Give the plant decent soil, compost, fertilizer, protection from pests, including watering when dry, and after the establishment period they should be strong enough to grow away without too much further attention.
TIP OF THE WEEK
With the added daylight and warmth it is a pleasure to spend more time in the garden in the evenings and not have to be confined to weekends to get things done. It is surprising what can be achieved in an hour outside and it is a great way to unwind after the day. The priority should be planting and sowing for the next six weeks as our season is short enough to let time slip away.
If you have any queries of comments you are welcome to share them with me on 051-384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future article.