Despite more time at home than we ever dreamed of and promises of getting on with the gardening chores that never get done, the garden still feels unloved and not as good as the neighbours. I don’t have an answer (I am in the same boat) but May is a great time to be in the garden and to know that what you do now will make a big difference to the success (or not) of our flowers and crops.
We are still at risk from late frosts (at least until mid-May), so delay planting out tender bedding plants, half-hardy annuals and vegetable crops which are delicate and can be easily damaged. In contrast, the second half of May is all go, and you can plant your geraniums, fuchsias, begonias and other essentials of summer colour with confidence. And if you are into vegetables, you can plant out your tomatoes, peppers and courgettes allowing them a long growing season and bountiful crops.
The spring garden is loud and full-on. The colours of forsythias, massed daffodils, tulips and flowering cherry don’t hide their lights under any bushels! The cherry trees have been glorious this spring and magnolias have been largely unspoilt by hard frosts. As you wander round Chieveley on your daily permitted escape from confinement, do gaze and enjoy the nature and fine gardens that surround us; the bluebells in local woodland that vie with the vast numbers of cowslips in verges.
Unsurprisingly, the Yellow Book National Gardens Scheme has been blighted by coronavirus and the money they normally raise from garden visits (around £3 million) is lost. But, taking advantage of the available technology, the NGS website (ngs.org.uk) has great selection of virtual garden visits with the owners sharing their successes and failures. Alan Titchmarsh’s garden looks particularly splendid (and large). You are invited to donate to Macmillan Nurses, Marie Curie and Hospice UK to help them generate some income. Do take a look.
Before our annual Plant and Produce sale was cancelled, I had started sowing and propagating plants to sell. The cannas that grow so well in the village planter are now 60 plants! I can use a few but if you would like to try some in your garden please contact me via the garden club email. I also have some tomato plants looking for a good home. If you are new to gardening, tomatoes make an easy start; they are not difficult to grow and taste far better than any shop bought.
Happy and active quarantining, Giles Derry
Dates for your diary – planned!
Saturday 5 September. Autumn Flower Show at 2.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. Sadly, autumn approaches, but this is our biggest show of the year and the hall will be brimming with Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, vegetables and fruit.
Wednesday 14 October. 7.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. Overwintering Fuchsias. Derek Dexter will show us how to keep your plants for next year. Guests and non-members (both £2) are always welcome.
Wednesday 11 November 7.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. Annual General Meeting followed by wine and nibbles.