May is a busy month in the gardeners' calendar. Here in Sussex, a rather cool north westerly is blowing even though the skies are blue. However spring is well and truly here: the swallows have arrived and you can hear their charming bird call, the apple trees are in blossom and cowslips, peggles, fairy cups - call them what you will - are flowering like mad in the wild flower swards around the gardens. The latin name for cowslip is Primula veris which means 'of spring' so entirely appropriate for this delightful bloom. Currently there are sheets of cowslips to be enjoyed in St. Roches Arboretum. If you're feeling energetic take a look. Once in the arboretum head off on either the left or right track and soon you'll see what I mean.
It's still narcissus heaven on some of the lawns as later varieties such as Narcissus poeticus & N. Hawera provide an extended flowering display amongst May's wildflower bonanza. Who knew how much excitement these swards would create amongst visitors, gardeners and the insect world? They are such a heady addition to the gardens.
Now that the green shrubbery has been given a all-over trim, Stu and Will, the two 'woodies', move onto to other pruning tasks under glass. Laterals on single cordon grapes are tightly pruned and the dead wood removed from the peach and nectarine trees. From now on, throughout the season, these plants will be checked for unruly growth on a regular basis.
Elsewhere chilli plants are leaping out of their pots. Tomatoes are ready for planting out or for potting on and will make up displays in four separate locations in the Victorian glasshouses during summer. The bedding plants are still enjoying a couple of weeks' worth of glasshouse protection before they brave the great outdoors for hardening off and will be ready to plant out at the end of the month.
Our first sowings of melons and cucumbers are thriving in their own warm glasshouse, and this will be followed by additional sowings at three weekly intervals so that we can enjoy successional harvesting over the coming months.
The kitchen garden crops are rising fast: shallots, onions, garlic, potatoes and broad beans are all making a showing and the early crops on the south facing border are almost ready to harvest. Shaun the kitchen gardener is currently planting large modules of the brassica crops such as cabbages, kale and Brussels sprouts. He is having to net these immediately as we live in pigeon paradise, as you may know.
Anne the border queen is whipping around the garden tying in, weeding staking and planting. So just another busy month in Anne's world.