May at Norfolk School of Gardening - Summer Approaches

May at Norfolk School of Gardening - Summer Approaches

Summer approaches - can't you just feel it?

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We may be in our seventh week of lockdown, but anyone who has been spending time in the garden recently will know that most plants have emerged from dormancy and are growing almost before our eyes. Seedlings are appearing overnight and plants which we pruned only a few weeks ago, such as roses and summer flowering clematis have put on several inches of growth in the past couple of weeks. Indeed the first roses have opened just as the last tulips are putting on their best show and the allium are fit to burst. Over the next few weeks most gardens will reach a crescendo as trees break into bright, vibrant leaf, many shrubs begin to flower, the last of the spring bulbs do their bit and the first of the early summer flowers take over. We are all spending so much more time outside and I can’t be the only one to have really taken notice of birdsong this spring. From the blackbird perched on the chimney in the late afternoon to the robin following my every move as I weed the beds, and from the rooks chasing the buzzards high above the Walled Garden to the starlings provoking the dog with their teasing calls. We have had visits from a mistle thrush, and the jackdaws which live in the Hall chimneys seem to hunt regularly for chafer grubs in the grass. I don’t believe the birds have been busier this spring, but I do think there has been less distracting noise from traffic and we have probably all slowed down and paid more attention. Long may that last!

We have continued to sow and prick out vegetables this week. We added celery, beetroot and parsley to the seed tray rack this week while planting out carrots and French marigolds into the new Rhino GrowBeds. The potatoes began to send up leaves and we started to mound up the soil above them. A few weeks ago we added a new bed for soft fruit and planted some blackcurrants. This week we have added jostaberries which we propagated from cuttings back in the autumn. These are a cross between blackcurrants and gooseberries and I cannot wait to see and taste the fruit. Gooseberries will be added to the bed in the next week.

We took some more cuttings in the greenhouse, adding several scented Pelargoniums to the propagation bench along with more Penstemon, and we began to pot up Salvias and Gaura which had successfully rooted over the winter.

We don’t know how long this crisis will last but we would love to hear from you if you are interested in joining us later in the year on any of our courses. We will add you to our mailing list and keep you posted when things begin to return to normal.


Plant of the Week


Paulownia tomentosa

Paulownia tomentosa

Also known as the princess or foxglove tree, this is a medium-sized deciduous tree with huge ovate or shallowly-lobed leaves, up to 25cm long. It is fast growing but the impact of the leaves is greatest if hard pruned in late winter. The flowers are fragrant, light lilac-purple and foxglove-like. It will not flower if pruned for foliage. Grow in full sun in a sheltered site in moist, humus-rich, fertile soil.


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