Sylvia Clare’s Column – May 2013

Published: July 31, 2022

Another day in the Garden – 21st May 2013

Like everybody else, I've been waiting so long for it to warm up so I could proclaim how marvellously everything has caught up, but it hasn't really, and some things are hanging on in there still, so I have some almost fresh hellebore flowers still out next to in fat dark bud, and pot marigolds and forget-me-nots still in flower next to hardy geranium like ‘Bill Wallis'and ‘Summer Skies'. My pots of tulips are just going over and I am replacing them, for our visitors in the court yard, with pots of pelargoniums and dahlias brought on in the greenhouse (not in flower yet) and hostas just unfurling their wonderful leaves. Grasses are sending up their new shoots and generally everything is beginning to really come alive. I know some people may not even be this far ahead yet, we are south and a relatively protected climate. However my early French beans usually go out now easily but they have been knocked back by the still rather cold nights and I am now potting the rest of them up into much larger pots inside the greenhouse, together with courgette and squash plants, tomatoes courgettes and gherkins, all jostling for space until they can get outside and get their feet properly down. Even my onions started off months ago in the greenhouse in modules are still not really growing much and what's more the rabbits have nibbled their tops shoots down a little too. At least they are growing slowly, and hopefully it will warm up properly soon. Mind you I quite like it not too hot, being of an age when I have a faulty personal thermostat, I prefer the in-between seasons and also I can get stuck in for more hours without wilting from heat. If it does suddenly get hotter I shall be up at 5 am or earlier, getting at least 4 hours work in before the sun sends me indoors again. And I can then have a leisurely afternoon read and snooze before starting again in the evening. A little spritz of white vinegar keeps the mozzies off me as I have also become a much more tasty morsel then I used to be, apparently!

Aliums 80

Tulips 31


I have also been harvesting herbs for drying, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, lemon balm and sage leaves. I have invested in a desiccator this year so that I can dry even more stuff, including fruit tomatoes etc. later on this summer. You can tell I am anticipating a decent summer crop this year – we all deserve it after last year. The other problem is the sudden rush of weed growth everywhere but we ran a mindfulness weekend workshop last weekend and so I had eight people doing three hours each weeding for me, a wonderful opportunity for practicing mindfulness and great for my onions, lilies etc. all to be weeded for me, whilst I supervised. I introduced micro-weeding as a concept too, those tiny weeds that come up alongside the carrot seedlings, and all need taking out as soon as possible. I love running workshops! Anyway this is the HPS so I am diverging onto my veggies rather a lot here.

I have also been busy potting on the many cuttings I took earlier on this spring and last autumn too. Most have great root systems now and will be put out into the garden within a month from now.

Auriculas 41
Geranium 64


In the car park at the front of the house we have a large curved bank, built over rubble when we first moved in and covered in half hardy annuals for the first few years, but gradually these all got swamped out by various perennials and some Mediterranean herbs I also planted there but which I now want further down the garden in our veg. and herb plots. I want to reinstate these banks with their riot of Half Hardy Annual colour and also increase the depth of soil as much of the earth and soil we originally piled on top of the rubble has slowly drizzled through the gaps and left a rather shallow covering. So we've dug most things out, piled on bags of horse manure, composted bark and sieved soil from else-where in the garden that we are developing and terracing. I hope to be broadcast sowing seeds tomorrow and also planting out some of the irises etc. that I thinned out and rejuvenated. Lots of projects as usual.

So what's wonderful this week? Well my Tulipa batalini bright gem are for start, a few oriental poppies that have burst their buds, still some auriculas and primroses of various colours, honesty in shades of pink and white, , a few shy violets hiding their flowers underneath their leaves, lots of lovely euphorbias, some alliums, and a few others like marigolds, centaurea, cerinthe, that's about it I think. Oh and the trees, the apples, plums, cherries, amelanchier. However waiting in the sidelines are shrubs in abundance, weigelias, viburnum varieties, and so much more, but that is for next time.

Euphorbia 60

Euphorbia and Forget-me-nots
Poppies 3

Oriental Poppies

Sylvia Clare

Text and photographs by Sylvia Clare, who has been an HPS member for more than 10 years.