Fiveways Gardens...May 2014

It's Open House season, and I know, for a lot of us, that brings a great opportunity to go nosing in our neighbours' houses. There's often the opportunity to take a sneaky peak at folk's gardens too, and I know, because I see a lot of them, that there's inspiration to be found in the gardens. Most of us have very similar plots to deal with and there are some really clever solutions to common problems. Don't be afraid to simply copy a good idea. If you see a plant thriving in a shady area that you like but can't identify, just ask. Most of us are flattered by this, not offended. If they don't know, ask if you can take a photo, and take it along to your local nursery and hopefully they'll be able to help.

If you haven't already, feed flowering bulbs - whether in flower or fading fast. This is especially important for bulbs in containers, as once the nutrients in the compost have been used by the plants, there are no more available. Lack of food is the most common reason for bulbs coming up ‘blind', that is, just the leaves emerge without a flower in sight. Also, bear in mind that many tulips won't keep coming year after year like daffs, and neither will flower well (at all) in shade.

Spanish bluebells (bigger than our dainty little native species) will have finished flowering by now, and they need digging out carefully. They spread and spread, so an annual attempt to get rid of them will help keep them from taking over your garden. Dig deep, and try to take out all the bulbs, however small. Fear not, if you're fond of them, as they will flower again next year, but just not at the expense of anything else you want to grow.

Ivy - not everyone's favourite plant, but a great wildlife supporting plant. Its berries in very late winter are a good source of food for collared doves and other birds. Its flowers are a great source of late nectar for bees. Some people cut back in autumn and spring, but I just hit it hard in late April / early May. This keeps it under control but allows it to flower and berry. Along with hollies that are found in many local gardens, the ivy is a host plant for the Holly Blue butterfly, and leaving cutting it back till late April or May will help these creatures. This method of pruning is best for us too, as you won't be staring at dead-looking brown sticks for too long, as the sap is rising now and the plants are bursting into fresh new green growth.

Happy gardening


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