May is a lovely month, filled with the promise of a wonderful summer ahead and the garden should now be in full swing; bees bumbling, seedlings sprouting and butterflies fluttering.
May is also a month of great opportunities to use the garden, with two long weekends and national BBQ week on the horizon, as well as bouts of warm weather and summer sunshine. As your spring bulbs die back down, you may be missing the vibrant colour they brought with them and looking for a few plants that will give you some reliable colour in May, as we transition from spring to summer.
If you’re planning on entertaining over the bank holidays, then you want your garden looking its best, so planting in lots of lovely colour now will ensure it’s a blooming success. Here are my favourite plants to add colour in May;
Aquilegia or Columbine is a delightful cottage garden perennial which is easy to grow. The pretty flowers have spurred petals and come in a range of colours.
Aquilegias thrive in light shade but will tolerate full sun. They will grow in most soil conditions preferring sandy or loamy soil the most, and once established, they are drought tolerant and will survive a dry summer. While Aquilegia is mostly a low-maintenance plant, they do require some care to see maximum results. Seed heads can be removed to prevent new plants overcrowding the parent plant.
Bergenia cordifolia is a tough perennial with dark green leathery leaves and pretty flower spikes. These plants provide useful ground cover for tubs, beds and borders when grown in groups. Bergenia also provides pollen and nectar for bees and insects.
They will tolerate most soil conditions and are equally happy in full sun, partial or full shade. The shiny green summer foliage becomes tinged with purple during winter, providing a colourful display all year round.
A beautiful flowering shrub for spring is Weigela ‘Bristol Ruby’ This hardy, medium-sized shrub grows vigorously, producing deep red funnel-shaped flowers from April to June. It is a hardy plant and needs little attention providing all the basic needs have been met.
It can be grown in most soil types, providing they are well-drained, and prefers a sunny location. Prune after flowering by cutting back shoots to a strong pair of buds. Weigela should be pruned annually to encourage strong shoots and healthy flowering.
Dianthus are perennial plants from that, depending on the variety, will flower between May and August.
Dianthus require fertile, well-drained and alkaline-rich soil with no exposure to frost or wind. Plant in full sun or partial shade with plenty of sunlight. Dianthus do not require a great deal of care but will fare better if provided with the perfect growing conditions. Ensure the soil is well-drained and only water when almost entirely dry. Deadheading of dying flowers and brown leaves should be carried out to ensure prolonged flowering.
Peony is a tough herbaceous perennial plant, famous for having beautiful red, white and pink flowers.
Herbaceous Peonies require well-drained soil and can be planted in either autumn or spring. They should be sufficiently watered and prefer full sun. If a peony is planted too deep or in too much shade, then they may not flower and should be moved to a more suitable location. On occasion, the flowers can become too heavy for the stem to support and they may collapse under the weight. Staking is a good way to prevent this from occurring.
Mexican Orange Blossom
Mexican Orange Blossom also known as Choisya Ternata is an evergreen shrub and is known for the fragrant white flowers it produces. Mexican Orange Blossom thrive in locations that are both sheltered and exposed to full sun and can be planted at any time of year. It does not require any specific type of soil but will do well in well-drained conditions and may not grow to full potential in overly acid or alkaline rich compost.
Mexican Orange Blossom can withstand a great deal of neglect but do suffer when exposed to a combination of wind and cold. Young Mexican Orange Blossom should be well watered throughout the first year.