Author: Janine Winlaw

10 of the best May flowering plants

  Gardens can often lack colour in late spring/early summer when there’s lots of foliage but not enough flowers. Here’s my pick of plants to fill the gap. 1. Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Black Barlow’ With delicate flowers on long stems, this dark plum variety is equally at home in cottage garden schemes or more contemporary settings with grasses and euphorbias. Aquilegias are short lived but self-seed easily creating a naturalistic feel and are happiest in moist soil in sun or dappled shade. 2. Iris ‘Jane Phillips’ Whether rich velvety purples or this delicate pale blue variety, bearded iris are a spectacular sight in May – and their grey/ blue strappy leaves add texture too. Plant them with the upper part of the rhizome on the soil surface in the sun so they can bake. Another option is the more delicate clump forming Iris sibiricas such as mid blue ‘Silver Edge’, which has narrower leaves and likes more moisture. 3. Papaver orientale ‘Patty’s Plum’ The paper-thin petals of this gorgeous pinky purple perennial poppy are …

Luscious lawns

Now is the time to give your grass a bit of spring TLC if you want a lawn to be proud of this summer. Here are eight jobs to give it a lift – even just a few of these will be a step in the right direction. Rake leaves. Rake off any leaves and other garden debris built up over the winter. Give it a trim. As the weather warms up and your grass starts to grow again, you can start mowing. Choose a dry day and use the highest setting so as not to scalp the lawn. Remove weeds. Regular mowing will remove most of the annual weeds but not the pesky perennial weeds such as thistles and dandelions. Weed killer is an option, but I prefer to dig them out by hand, removing the whole taproot to avoid it re-growing. Scarify. This is where you rake off the ‘thatch’ – dead grass, debris and moss – one of the biggest problems with lawns. Use a wire rake and don’t worry if it …

Garden Talk: In praise of cherry blossom

There’s nothing prettier than pink cherry blossom against a clear blue sky – a sign winter is behind us and spring is here. Most cherries flower from March to May and there’s a type of blossom to suit all tastes from delicate, single blooms to blousy doubles, in whites and the palest pinks to bright candy floss pink. Cherries are a great choice of tree for London gardens as many varieties don’t get too big and the foliage colours beautifully in autumn giving another season of interest. Here are 10 of the best: Pale pink Prunus ‘Pink Shell’ A small, elegant tree with spreading branches and delicate single, pale pink flowers – a lovely contrast to the light green leaves. This is one of the prettiest cherries and widely available. 4m. Prunus ‘Kojo-no-mai’ A compact cherry tree/shrub – with delicate very pale pink flowers and wonderful autumn foliage. Ideal for containers. 2.5m Prunus ‘Accolade’ A graceful spreading tree with a cloud of large pastel pink semi-double flowers in April/May. It also has smooth reddish brown bark and …

Garden Talk: And so to bed

It’s chilly out there, the lawn’s looking muddy and the borders tatty, but a bit of tidying now will make the garden look neat over the Christmas period and get you one step ahead for spring… Cut back… …but don’t be too tidy. Some perennials such as sedum have attractive seed heads that look great covered in frost or dew. Ornamental grasses also add winter structure as do dried out hydrangea heads – both can be pruned in spring. Cut back perennials that are looking tatty and brown such as peonies and Verbena bonariensis to around to 5cm from ground level. (Leave more tender plants such as penstemon until April or May after the frosts.) Wisteria can be pruned now and give roses a light trim, removing long or damaged shoots. Now they’re dormant, apples, pears, currants and autumn fruiting raspberries can also be pruned from now on. Likewise, trim off any dead, diseased or rubbing branches from shrubs and trees. Acers and birch are particularly suited to pruning now, before the sap starts to flow. …

Garden Talk: The Best Evergreen Climbers

Evergreen climbers are one of the most useful plants in city gardens. Covering fences in green foliage, they blur boundaries and create a lush backdrop for planting throughout the year. There are lots to choose from, all offering something different: foliage, flowers, berries, colour and scent. Here are my favourites.  Luscious leaves  Trachelospermum jasminoides With neat glossy foliage and sweet smelling flowers, this tops the list. It copes with shade but in sun will reward you with a mass of tiny white summer flowers that smell of the Mediterranean. I also like the ‘Variegatum’ variety with white splashed leaves, or for something different try the yellow flowered ‘Star of Toscana’. Trachelospermum takes a while to establish but will eventually coat your fence in dense foliage, which just needs a light prune after flowering to keep in check. Pileostegia viburnoides Evergreen, self-clinging and shade tolerant, this is a useful new find of mine. It has long glossy green leaves and sprays of white flowers in late summer, early autumn. It’s slow growing but is a stunning …