There is no better month in the calendar than May. In my garden the lilacs, dusky parrot tulips, early alliums and herbaceous peonies all cavort with the aquilegias I never got around to weeding out (and I’m glad I didn’t).
In this episode of the podcast I’m sitting back and marveling at what this month does in the garden. All of the things I love best, including lilacs, rhododendrons and wonderful wisteria are at their fragrant, flowering peak.
Most of the tones in the garden are purples, with the occasional shot of Barbie pink from a herbaceous peony I’ve never managed to identify. If you’d like to come see for yourself, my garden here in East Lothian is open this Saturday 24 May from 10am-1pm, raising funds for research into an ultra-rare disease that affects a close family friend.
So in this podcast I’m also looking at some of the stunning plants donated for the “Rare Plants for Rare Disease Research” fundraiser. If you are within driving distance at all of Edinburgh, please visit us (postcode EH34 5DA if you’re traveling by GPS), and enjoy wonderful homemade cakes and teas, as well as a selection of plants from some of Britain’s best-known nurseries, many of whom just picked up medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014.
All proceeds go to researching the causes and potential cure for neuracanthocytosis (NA), a neurodegenerative disease which affects just one in 7 million people: sadly one of those people is Alex, daughter of my very good friends in London. Please come on Saturday with a fat wallet and a full heart, and help us fund the research that can make such a difference to Alex.
Here are some of the plants I’m looking at in this episode:
- Rhododendron purple splendour
- Wisteria floribunda
- Allium Hollandicum Purple Sensation
- Tulipa Muriel
- Herbaceous pink peony – unknown name
- Narcissus Baby Moon
- White lilac
- Purple lilac Charles Joly
- Rambling rose Lykkefund
- Clematis Montana
- Geum montanum
- Aquilegia saximontana
- Geum Borisii
- Mertensia lanceolata
- Primula (alpine various)
- Scilla peruviana
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The abundance of May slightly takes me by surprise every year. So much of the greenery that strikes my eye, from the herbaceous peonies to the delphiniums, was invisible in January, but now it is all part of the greenscape that makes the May garden seethe with life.
This week in the podcast I’m appreciating how well white flowering spring bulbs look up against all those greens, including the unusual white bluebells that grow in this garden, as well as leucojum (the summer snowflake). In this episode I’m also looking at a few new sponsors for my charity plant sale on 24 May – including David Austin Roses (donating a raffle prize of a cut roses bouquet), Macplants, and Binny Plants – and I’m giving a brief rundown on the water feature I’m planning in the corner of this small garden.
Do you have a water feature in your garden? I thought and dreamed about one for years, but I could never find components that wouldn’t look twee or cost a fortune. I have finally found a stone-effect trough that is convincing to my eye, along with a classy wall-mounted fountain spout from Haddonstone. I’ll keep you posted as and when I get it installed, if I figure out how to make all the pieces work together.
What are you doing in your garden this week?
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Plant lovers and gardening addicts of Edinburgh and East Lothian, it’s time to do what you do best – pick up a fabulous plant for your garden. Come to my garden on 24 May in East Lothian, postcode EH34 5DA if you’re navigating by GPS, and support Rare Plants for Rare Disease Research.
This sale of familiar plants, alongside rare and unusual plants donated from some of Britain’s foremost nurseries, is a great way to spend a Saturday morning at the end of Chelsea week. All proceeds go to the Advocacy for Neuroacanthocytosis Patients, a charity started by my friends when their daughter was diagnosed with such a rare disease, they resolved to fund the search for a cure themselves.
We’re in Pencaitland, just a half hour’s drive from Edinburgh, and would love to see you if you can spare the time. More details in the flyer above — please share this with anyone you’re connected to, who might enjoy a lovely morning looking at lovely plants, and some fabulous home-made cakes from my wonderful neighbours.
Donations of plants have already been received with warmest thanks to Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex, Crug Farm Nursery of Wales, Sarah Raven, Kevock Garden Plants, Binny Plants, Winton House, Macplants and Frank Kirwan of Humbie Dean and organiser of East Lothian Garden Trail. We’re also holding a raffle for a luxurious cut roses bouquet from the stunning David Austin Roses.
I’ve been in my small garden long enough to know that every square inch is precious, so I still surprise myself when I realise I’m giving up space to plants I don’t love, like a pieris near the French doors by my office.
There’s a camellia I love – camellia sasanqua Winter’s toughie – which is struggling in a small pot in the courtyard part of the garden. The right thing to do would be to transplant it into an ericaceous barrel with the pieris, but I’ve hesitated because I’m afraid of crowding out the pieris. The shrub has only just moved into its own barrel after tucking in beside a rhododendron for a number of years, and my natural sympathies for the plant make me reluctant to force it to share space again. But it’s time to be ruthless: the camellia means more to me, and with my full garden getting ever fuller, I really can’t afford to be indulgent.
In this week’s podcast I’m talking a bit about my ruthless streak, including my habit for shamelessly chopping back strong perennials that are crowding out first-year plants like a fabulous Bourbon rose I bought at the RHS Chelsea flower show last year. I couldn’t think of the grower’s name during the recording, but it is Peter Beales Roses, a fine grower who had a most impressive (and crowded!) stand at last year’s show.
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Here’s a list of plants and other key names in this week’s episode:
- Rhododendron purple splendor
- Tulips Orange Emperor, Professor Rontgen, Passionale, Moneymaker, Clusiana Sheila
- Narcissus Sun Disc
- Zaluzianskya – night scented phlox
- Anemone Blanda
- Lavender: Lavandula angustifolia Hidcote
- Mahonia japonica
- Lily of the Valley – convallaria majalis
- Herbaceous Peonies: red Sarah Bernhardt; Duchesse de Nemours (pictured above)
- Bourbon Rose Mme. Isaac Pereire
- Peter Beales Roses is the supplier I visited at last year’s RHS Chelsea flower show
- Sarah Hayhoe is the stained-glass designer: see samples of her work in one of my Chelsea posts from 2013.
What are you doing in your garden this spring? Have you allowed yourself to spring clean plants that aren’t earning their keep?
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If you’ve been following Stopwatch Gardener for any length of time, you’ll know that the Advocacy for Neuroacanthocytosis Patients is a cause close to my heart, for a simple reason: my friends’ daughter is suffering from an incurable, ultra-rare disease, and my friends are trying to fund research into a cure themselves.
Would you like to help support this incredible cause? And pick up something fabulous for your garden at the same time? If so, I’m holding a plant sale fundraiser here in my garden on 24 May, Rare Plants for Rare Disease Research. I’d be grateful if you could spread the word: I’ve penned a wee press release below with the key information. Please do come by if you’re in driving distance of Pencaitland, here in East Lothian. I’d love to see you!
More details below…
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