24 August, 2019

May 2011

Peter’s advice

Still, plenty to do in the garden at this time of year and one of the first will be planting out half-hardy and tender flowers and vegetables.

These are the ones that you sowed during April under cover for planting out in the second half of May.  Either that or you are going to buy them from a nursery or garden centre when you’re ready for them.

Peter points out his frosted runner bean seedlings

I learnt a lesson this year as we had planted them out just before that blistering frost on the night of 4th – 5th May.

Came out in the morning to find the tops of the runner bean plants bent and black!

And that was in spite of covering them with fleece the evening before. Just shows what a sharp frost will get through. I’ve never known that happen before.

They should be all right, though. Nature has got the sense to put two little buds on the main stem just above the two seed leaves that are closest to the ground and the first to emerge. With a bit of luck and a fair wind they should grow out and pull the chestnuts out of the fire!

The temperature was low the following night but there was a breeze that mixed up the freezing air with the warmer lot and saved our bacon.

By the way, we cut down and carted away the 22ft. brown bay tree that was killed by, very probably, the November freeze-up. We did this in spite of me telling you not to get vicious until June. Living evidence that you should do what I say; not what I do!

I notice that the new growth on ivy, up to about 4ft. above the ground, was scorched on that frosty night. I didn’t see how low the temperature got but it must have been a man-sized frost to do that.

Peter with a replacement runner bean seedling

Still, everything else seems all right and I sowed some more runner and French beans in pots under cover to make up for any that didn’t make it. That’s one thing about making mistakes like this; there’s time to make up for it – at a price!

Hope the apple and pear blossom was all right. Haven’t seen such a good show for many years. The fig tree’s dead, though. Have to slip along to Pickering for another. Shame; we had nearly a hundred figs off it a few years ago. Oh well; such is gardening.

Peter Blackburne-Maze


Jonathan’s tips


Water well newly planted trees and shrubs. It’s very dry.

Plant Runner and French Bean seeds outside in early May.

Harden off greenhouse seedlings that need to go out in the open garden.

Plant out bedding plants after the Whitsuntide Bank Holiday.

Hanging baskets can be put out at the same time.

If you shade your greenhouse, May is a good time to apply.

Fleece your fruit blossom to protect from night frosts.

Apply a high nitrogen feed to the lawn (If it rains).


Cornus controversa variegata


Jonathan with his wedding cake tree.

As Royal Wedding Celebrations are taking place I thought it would be good to write about the Wedding Cake Tree (Cornus controversa variegata).

I planted one in our front garden in 2003 and it’s now nearly two metres high.

The flowers are about to open, but the most striking aspect of the shrub is the way it grows up in tiers with variegated leaves.  A stunning architectural plant.

The photo of Jonathan checking his tree was taken by his wife Claire.


Jonathan Piercy May 2011

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