by Rebecca Ferrier
The clematis flowers are creeping out and trailing plants are climbing upwards. Ensure those garden trellises are up, painted and sturdy. It is near impossible to repair or repaint a trellis once a climbing plant has weaved its way into the structure, at least not without damaging the plant.
Last month offered sunshine, showers and hail amidst a hosepipe ban and the upcoming weather for the start of May looks as equally as unpredictable. For a gardener, many things are never certain.
Fellow local gardeners have bragged about their full water-butts, but the drought predicted towards this summer looms. One thing to look forward to is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and there is no better way to celebrate than to plant those pots and hanging baskets with patriotic colours: red, white and blue. One reliable plant for me has been pansies: cheerful, sweet and sturdy things.
Along many woodland footpaths wild garlic has begun to emerge, bringing its strong scent with it. Not only can it be pretty, with its dainty white flowers, but can be used for a bit of rustic cooking. The National Trust’s Prior Park held its own garlic-picking day, inviting the public to pick their own wild garlic and teaching them how best to utilise it in the kitchen.
Alexa Bingham, Catering Manager at Prior Park, said: “This tasty plant is incredibly versatile. The leaves and stalks can be used raw in salads, boiled or fried as a vegetable or used in soups, relishes and pesto. The beautiful flowers add a zingy garnish to any meal. The National Trust wants to highlight the amazing ingredients that grow in our own back gardens.”
On the subject of garden-cooking, tomato season beckons: it’s time to get planting and ensure you have the right conditions with which to care for them. Growing bags used for tomatoes are often a success. Snap out those shoots which may grow in the leaf joints to ensure that you have a single-stemmed plant. This helps to make sure that the plant’s energy goes into producing the fruit. Keep your tomato plants watered daily and when flowers appear, feed them with fertiliser (there are special tomato kinds) every week for the best results.
Lupins are a favourite of mine and it is best to plant them in the Spring, but do keep the surrounding soil moist. They add vibrancy, height and come in a variety of different colours: a great way to bring life and light to your garden after a long and dreary season. Now is also the time to watch out for weeds. With warmer weather, although it has been rather infrequent lately, weeds can quickly crop up. Get rid of them as soon as possible before they flower and then go to seed.