May – a time for blossom in the garden.
By Sarah Wilson
April was a riot of yellow and blue in the gardens and woodlands around Kingswood – the daffodils and bluebells, although battered by wind and rain, gave us a sense of spring which was followed in early May with a splendid offering of bright tulips. In mid May the garden looks a bit sombre, as the summer perennials are just coming into leaf and we have a sea of bright green but not much colour. I think this is what drives people to the garden centres to stock up on bedding plants. Bedding plants come in a range of cheerful colours and provide instant colour. They are however, quite labour intensive, requiring watering and deadheading and then at the end of summer – you throw them away!
A better solution is to try and fill the May and June garden with pink and white blossom on trees and shrubs. There is something to suit everyone and once established they need little maintenance and they will produce masses of blossom year after year.
For early May you can plant Viburnum burkwoodii – scented pinky -white flowers which last for months. The most striking tree for early May is the Amelanchier Lamarkii – there are several on Woodland Way, it is a small tree – about 14 feet, with soft copper leaves followed by delicate pink blossom and then in Autumn the leaves turn red – a tree for all seasons.
For May flowering shrubs try the Choisya dewitteana ‘Aztec Pear l’ – glossy evergreen leaves and scented white blossom for all May. Two other useful shrubs are Exochorda ‘The Bride’ and the Spirea ‘ Bridal Wreath’. By late May the excellent Viburnum plicatum, with tiers of white blossom will be in full flower.
Finally, don’t forget the flowering cherries and crab apples – Both are very easy to grow, tolerant of all soils and need no attention.
The best flowering cherry, and there are several in Kingswood Warren, is Prunus ‘Shirofugen’ – white drooping buds turning into pink blossom which fall on the ground like confetti. A tall but narrow tree, suitable for a small border is Prunus Amanogawa – looks like a spire of pink fluffy blossom. If you want a Crab Apple the very best is Malus ‘Red Sentinel “. You can see these at Wisley – it has the most wonderful, almost translucent red berries in profusion in autumn. A more traditional Malus is the Malus Floribunda – the Japanese Crab – a mass of red buds followed by soft pink blossom in May.
If you really want to buy a wonderful new tree for your garden you couldn’t do better than a Cornus – either Cornus Kousa – a tallish tree with masses of white flowers (or bracts) in June and striking red fruit in August or the Wedding Cake Tree – Cornus Controversa – with tiers of white flowers from April to June.
It was nice to see so many locals at my open garden on the 2nd May. Despite the rather cold weather we had 110 visitors and made £550 for the NGS charities and £260 for the Kingswood NSPCC – selling the cakes made by the ladies of the RAC.
If you want to see how different the garden looks in June – come and see us on the 11th or 12th June. On Saturday we will give you a glass of wine and nibbles – from 6 – 8. On Sunday the Children’s Trust volunteers are serving tea and cakes from 2- 4 – so do come and support us.
Dr Sarah Wilson, a long time resident in The Warren, regularly opens her garden in the summer months with the National Garden Scheme.
To contact Sarah please click here