An old gardener I used to work with once said to me that May in a garden should look like you’re only just managing to keep everything under control, or somethings going wrong. I always remember that as we’re frantically mowing lawns and pulling out weeds trying to keep things in check.
So it’s all about prioritising. For me, one of the most important jobs is ensuring that all the tender plants we’ve grown are ready for action. From March up until June, the greenhouses and cold frames are a constant balancing act. Trying to keep the non-frost hardy plants out of the way of any potential frost, all the while multiplying the space needed by pricking out seedlings into their own individual pots. Every surface is covered; all benches, propagating tables, filing cabinets and shelves covered in little plants, all ready to go out and be beautiful or become food.
May also has the ability to be roasting by day and freezing at night so we open the greenhouses every morning to keep the little tenders from scorching, and close them at night to keep them from freezing. The little pots they are in quickly dry out in the hot sun, so every afternoon it can take 2 people one hour to water up. So you can imagine we eagerly anticipate the end of the month when we can put our cherished little plants into the ground and our care of them lessens.
Before being planted out, all plants should have spent a few days out of the heated greenhouses and in cold frames. This is a slightly colder environment and serves to toughen them up a bit before being left to fend for themselves outside. This process is known as ‘Hardening Off’ and if you don’t do it, you may find that you don’t get the best from your plants when they first go in the ground.
At the end of May the Walled West Garden is the star attraction at Doddington – the micro-climate and our unique dividing techniques produce the most arresting displays of bearded Iris in our box edged parterres, white wisteria graces the walls and the wonderful herbaceous borders are full of peonies, alliums, and other perennial favourites. The gardens will be open daily for you to enjoy Iris Week, 27 May – 03 June (excl. Sat 2 June), 11am – 4.30pm.
David Logan ~ Head Gardener
Meet the team behind our gorgeous gardens! Head Gardener, David Logan (middle), with Laurent, Brett, Jordan and Zoe. The team of five also have support from a great team of volunteers.
Photos: Irises in the West Garden, David Logan, Head Gardener, Seedlings (Becca Davidson), The Garden Team (Simon Robson Photography)