Alex’ May Ramblings!

Well, April’s weather continues to frustrate gardeners with a very hot spell mid month which has curtailed the blooming season for some of my tulips and the remainder cold and wet so we have not had much opportunity to make up for lost time. I think we are still around five weeks behind where we might otherwise expect. Let’s hope that May turns out to be more favourable.

On a positive note, I have managed to cut and scarify my lawns which help in making the garden look a little tidier. Things in the greenhouse are not too encouraging: germination has been poor with sweet corn, courgettes, squash and sweet peas. I shall be resowing next week. My tomato plants are the only exception but I see from today’s weather forecast, we can expect temperatures to drop to two degrees tonight so I have hurriedly popped down to the greenhouse to cover them with horticultural fleece.

Outside, I have managed to get my onion sets and shallots in and hope to get onions from seed in next week. My broad beans are now well established and I have erected support for them so that they don’t blow over in a wind. I have also made sowings of carrot and parsnip but that’s as far as things have gone. It really is a matter of waiting for things to warm up.

On the flowering plants side, you should be taking the opportunity to complete tidying up your beds, splitting perennials and preparing for the planting of your more tender plants such as dahlias.

The annual plant sale is coming up this month. It will be held, as usual, in the village hall on Saturday 12th May between 2 and 4pm. Don’t forget to bring along your spare plants for sale to other members; the proceeds going to Hort Soc funds.

It should not have escaped your notice that this year, the Hort Soc has dedicated it as the year of the pollinators. Some of you may have been lucky enough to have attended the very interesting and inspirational talk on bees, given by Brigit Strawbridge. I hadn’t realised there are so many varieties of bees and resulting from my attendance, I have left two patches of pulmonaria that I was going to remove from the garden as she told us they are very attractive to bees at a time when there is not much else about. I have been in touch with Brigit to attempt to identify particular species I have spotted in my garden. It turns out that one of them isn’t a bee at all. I described it as about an inch in length with a large proboscis and hovering like a humming bird. She believes it to be a bee fly which mimics bees in order to avoid predators. The pulmonaria is attracting large numbers of bumble bees but also the hairy-footed flower bee. These also hover and I have seen them attacking the bumble bees. Apparently they are males trying to protect the flower nectar source so that their own females can feed on it. What a fascinating world we live in!

Let’s hope the weather takes a turn for the better very soon and we can make up for some lost time.

Happy gardening,