My Garden in May – Ideas for early colour

I used to think that the time between spring Daffodils and Tulips was a bit of a wasteland when it came to great shows of flowers, but how wrong I was. After two and a half years putting my little piece of England together I’ve learnt that if you pick the right plants and do your research you can get your garden to bloom long before the summer months.

I’ve formed a personal goal to create a garden that blooms all year around, preferably also providing cut flowers for indoors too, along with food for the bees and general insects that welcome in the birds.

I’m still learning of course, I’ve only had a garden of my own for a couple of years now but my mother has been taking me around gardens and showing me a thing or two in her own outdoor spaces for years. Clearly, I’m slowly turning into her – as most of us do by our 30’s đŸ˜‚.

So if you’re looking to add some extra colour into your the garden in the early months of the year, these are the stars of my 2021 May garden show, ready for you to plan in to next year.

May for us sees the cherry blossom fall and the sun start to move around the garden. I start to concentrate on the shady spots just as much as my most sunny boarders aiming for woodland dappled shade dreamy spots that catch the eye unawares.

Phlox & Aquilegia

This scented Phlox (below left) starts flowering early bringing a fresh blue to the borders just as the daffs start to dwindle. The scent, catch you as you walk past them in the afternoons just as the evenings start to stretch out. The base is bushy and flowers come up on tall stems so a second in line border position is great for this little guy.

Below on the right is my Aquilegia. A dark salmony-pink and yellow, with delicate flowers, this as well as the Phlox will flower early and into the summer. Usually advised for full sun this little lady is doing great in partial shade with me, it’s another tall addition with a relatively narrow leaf base so a great space filler to come up above lower plants.

Acers and Clematis

My Acer (below left) springs back from bud in May and puts on a deep burgundy show. It’s happy in the shade and has never needed too much attention. It’s not keen on windy spots however, and does like to be sheltered.

The large white clematis is one of the first things out in the garden after the blossom and has put on a great display this year right next to the house. I often feel like if White Company had a flower this would be it.

Violas (below left), coming in so many different colours, are a firm favourite of mine to fill little spots and pots. If you plant them all fairly close together they grow taller trying to catch the light and if you keep them happily watered, pick off wilting flowers and keep on top of slugs and snails they will flower all through the winter and into the summer months.

My tulips this year (below right) were a new addition, I chose Tulip ‘Danceline’ for its resemblance to a peony and it didn’t disappoint. Huge, showy blooms made the garden feel like summer just as the cold months were failing. They last a good week when picked for a vase and should now come back next year with no effort if I leave them put.

Cosmos (below left) is something I always get in early as it’s such a hard worker in a summer garden, starting early and blooming ferociously through until later September. I found a darker red variety this year that I’m loving. These guys grow fast so if you see a large tray on offer with little plug plants it’s worth the buy, they’ll fill your boarders with flowers in a matter of weeks.

My Rhododendron sits under the cherry tree at the back of the garden and flowers early on with beautiful glowing buds that slowly turn from pink to yellow as they open. I never realised the buds for next year on these guys form so early and so close to the current flowers. I think one year I managed to damage all of the following years buds from deadheading a bit too vigorously – this is my lesson I pass on to you! These big guys love shade and can mostly be left to their own devices although watering is important if you want a good show of flowers – and not damaging the buds of course!


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