I have been amazed at how much everything has grown in the garden this month. We started May with the last of the Spring tulips in full bloom, progressed onto bluebells and have finished with Summer roses. Everything seems early responding to both the warmth and the wet.
May’s blooms in our garden have been a beautiful late Spring colour palette of pinks, mauves and violet blues. These soft, pastel colours would make a fabulous Analogous Colour Scheme for a wedding or home decor. I have written previously in my March Posy Blog Post all about the creation of different Colour Schemes. To create an analogous look you pick 2, 3 or 4 colours on the colour wheel that are next to each other. You can either use them equally or use one as a dominant colour with the others to support.
We started the month with pink viridiflora tulips – `Groenland’. The Hardy Perennial low growing Geranium sanguineum also made an early appearance. This pretty pastel pink Geranium is actually a British native wildflower and is perfect ground cover.
The star of the show this month has been my peachy pink Oriental Poppy. She has been greatly admired by my neighbours. Unfortunately the flowers were at their best when I was on holiday. This is one of those plants that is a real showstopper, but is no good for cut-and-come again hand-tied posies.
In the back garden my father-in-law built me a fantastic trellis for climbers. This month the clematis had been quite at home winding round the trellis. At the very beginning of May we had pale pink Clematis montana `Fragrant Spring’ in bloom and now we have semi-double deep pink Clematis montana `Broughton Star’. I also have a much bigger bloomed clematis underneath the apple tree. I wanted Clematis `Bees Jubilee’ to thread through the apple tree branches. However it prefers being lower down! This has meant I have now bought a climbing rose which I am hoping will climb more freely.
The wallflowers have been flowering freely for some time now. I have just given them the `Chelsea Chop‘. The Chelsea chop (so called because it is usually carried out at the end of May, coinciding with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show) is a pruning method by which you limit the size and control the flowering season of many herbaceous plants. There are a number of benefits to chopping back. Spring-flowering perennials can be persuaded to flower again as long as the plant hasn’t set seed. Chopping back now limits overall height and creates plants with a more compact, bushier shape that is less likely to flop at the end of summer.
May has seen quite a few blue and mauve flowers in bloom. Brunnera macrophylla `Jack Frost’ is another plant which definately benefits from the Chelsea Chop. It is one of those plants which isn’t showy but is quietly dependable.
Violet Blue Centaurea montana is also another vigorous stalwart.
The other plant that popped up was Borage. I really do not know if I planted this or whether it self-seeded from somewhere else. I didn’t know what it was until I saw `Borage’ labelled in the Herb Garden at Sissinghurst whilst on holiday earlier in the month. Apparently Borage makes a great herbal tea and goes well with Pimms!
The garden is beginning to see cottage garden perennials and Summer bulbs come to life. We have had foxgloves, allium bulbs and now roses. Unfortunately the bluebells went to seed whilst I was on holiday. Although I got to see bluebell woods whilst away.
My greatest success this month has been the sea-side garden I am aiming to create in the front. Under our front window my husband had created an area with small stones on top of plastic matting. I thought it was functional, but boring! So gradually I have been adding to the stones. Every time we have a holiday by the sea I collect a few specially selected pebbles and shells. I was on a mission for driftwood last holiday! I have gradually been buying alpines and simply pushing them into the stones. It was a gamble as there is no dirt other than the moss which falls off the roof. However alpines are often found tightly wedged between cracks and fissures on rocky cliff faces or growing on steep scree slopes. My gamble paid off and the plants have loved their sea-side home. I really like the Sea-Pink as it reminds me of Summer Coastal holidays. In a few weeks time these plants will be joined by Agapanthus in blue and white glazed terracotta pots which have been over-wintered in our Greenhouse.
Here is May’s Mosaic celebrating the flowers in my garden this month:-
After having been on Sarah Raven’s Course to learn how to tie a Hand-Tied Bouquet last month I decided I’d better have a go for my Posy of the Month! We had plenty of foliage in the garden – I particularly liked Rosemary for the aromatic scent. My next door neighbour had been admiring my poppies so I decided I would make her a Posy including one of my prized poppies. I also made posies for my mother and sister in law picking roses as the central `Wow’ flower.
I am in need of a florists bucket to collect flowers in. No matter, I improvised and used a saucepan!
I was really chuffed with myself because I remembered to condition all the flowers by placing in boiling water and stripping the unwanted leaves and foliage. I also found it much easier to handle a smaller hand-tied bouquet. However I got in such a pickle with tieing it up without Sarah Raven to hand to help! It’s quite a tricky job to hold on to the flowers and tie up the stems without dropping the lot! Then I didn’t know how big the pretty waxed waterproof tissue needed to be. I also couldn’t remember if the tissue went inside the cellophane or outside and if you placed the tissue all over the stems. I finally concluded the end of the stems needed to be free so they could suck up moisture and the cellophane needed to be on the outside. Then I couldn’t work out how to use two different coloured wax tissue papers in an aesthetic way. There also seemed to be a waxed side of the paper and an unwaxed side. I couldn’t believe how complicated it was getting! I won’t even mention trying to tie coloured raffia in a pretty bow! Actually the pretty bow needed to be done at the end over the cellophane so I ended up with two pretty bows not one! I have now watched Sarah’s You Tube video on `How to Create a Hand-Tied Bouquet’ and the tissue just needs to be lightly wrapped not tied. Finally I got to the cellophane sheets. Again how big did they need to be for a small hand-tied posy?! Sarah promises `These cellophane sheets are a must if you are growing your own flowers. With this floristry cellophane you’ll be able to wrap hand-tied bunches to give or take to friends.’ I’d even been on the course, but I still struggled! It is clearly important that the stems are cut to the same length. I got in such a pickle and when I added the water it went all over the worktop and on to the floor. As for trying to make it stand up – the posy wouldn’t! I had had a go though and the flowers were beautiful. I took the bouquet round to next door and apologised for the soggy tissue paper and suggested the flowers were put in a vase immediately!
I got better with the next two. My sister-in-law noticed I had chosen to give her a prized David Austin pink rose `Strawberry Hill’ in her bouquet and my mum-in-law received quite a successful hand-tied posy with white David Austin `William and Catherine’ roses.
Making my own Hand-Tied Posies for my May Posy has been a very steep learning curve. Once I had made them I tried out my new MDF backdrops painted with pink and purple paint to photograph them. To be honest my favourite shots are the ones with the flowers collected in the saucepan! I had such trouble trying to get the posies to stand still. My first effort kept falling over and then I got water everywhere again! Oh well I do think the saucepan shot is lovely!