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‘The darling buds of May’ is the phrase often used to mark the arrival of spring in our gardens and what a wonderful time of the year it is! This is when lots of perennials, shrubs and trees produce a range of different types of flowers and blossom. So here are my top 10 plants that could be looking great in your garden in May:

1. Wisteria x formosa (wisteria) ‘Caroline’

Even if your name’s not Caroline you’ll be delighted with this fast-growing climbing shrub. If you have the space to train it against a south or south-west facing wall, this time of the year, it’s smothered in masses of highly scented deep blue/light purple flowers.

An added bonus is that ‘Caroline’ tends to flower earlier than most other wisteria cultivars. To keep it flowering well and control its growth, prune twice a year in July and December.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 5m tall and 6m wide
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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2. Geranium (cranesbill) ‘Prelude’

Cranesbill geraniums are really good ‘doers’ and ‘fillers’ for a border. More great news is there are hundreds of different ones to choose from!

At this time of year, this pretty cultivar is covered in a mass of small lilac flowers for several weeks and works well planted in the middle of the border.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 50cm tall and 60cm wide
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full shade, full sun, or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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3. Deutzia x rosea [Yuki Cherry Blossom] (rose deutzia) 

Deutzia are a fantastic choice for the garden if you’re looking for trouble free shrubs. This cultivar is low growing and so not only great for ground cover but also looks particularly lovely cascading over a wall.

Its flowers have an incredible range of shades from pink all the way to carmine red.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 60cm tall and 60cm wide
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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4. Lamium orvala (balm-leaved red deadnettle) 

Don’t confuse this well-behaved upright mound forming plant with its common carpet covering ’weed’ relative. This species is clothed in lovely stiff stems of velvety texture with soft purple flowers for several weeks.

What’s more, it looks wonderful at the front of the flower border, growing under trees or tall shrubs.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 45cm tall and 45cm wide
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full shade or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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5. Ceanothus (Californian lilac) ‘Puget Blue’

Californian lilacs are famed for producing masses of blue flowers and this very hardy variety is no exception. From May to June, the plant is covered in gorgeous deep blue flowers.

It looks fabulous combined with a host of brightly coloured spring bulbs flowering below and all around it. If you need to prune, do so only lightly and immediately after flowering.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows to 2.5m tall and 2.5m wide
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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6. Nepeta racemosa (catmint) ‘Snowflake’

Catmint are great plants for not only filling a new border quickly but also for mixing with other plants. They produce masses of small flowers for months on end and will repeat flower later in the season when cut back after flowering.

This variety is unusual in that it produces white flowers with a hint of blue and is shorter growing than the more common ‘Six Hills Giant’. Without a doubt, it’s fantastic for the front of a border.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 45cm tall and 45cm wide
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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7. Kolkwitzia amabilis (beauty bush) ‘Pink Cloud’

This low maintenance shrub really lives up to its name because at this time of the year it’s smothered in a pretty haze of white-pink flowers. Not only can these blooms grace your garden, but they also make great cut flowers.

It’s a fantastic shrub for planting at the back of the border and will continue to look good after flowering, developing colourful leaves in the autumn.

If you need to shape the shrub then prune immediately after flowering as this plant flowers on wood grown the previous year.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 2.5m tall and 4m wide
  • Moist but well-drained soil or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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8. Lupinus (lupin) ‘Masterpiece’ 

Nothing says cottage garden more than lupins. These strikingly large plants send up huge spires of brightly coloured flowers just as the spring flowers are starting to fade.

They are a welcome sight and delight at this time of year, and once flowering is done, deadhead the faded blooms to encourage a second flurry of flowers.

  • Flowers in spring – summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 75cm tall and 80cm wide
  • Well drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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9. Calycanthus (sweetshrub) ‘Venus’ 

This shrub is a total beauty, producing gorgeous large, scented flowers for weeks on end. The flowers look a bit like those of a magnolia and are really profuse at the beginning of its flowering season.

After that, they flower intermittently all through summer and even into autumn. However, they do need protection from cold winds, so do ensure they are planted in a sheltered position.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 3m tall and 4m wide
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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10. Crataegus laevigata (double pink hawthorn) ‘Rosea Flore Pleno’

Hawthorn blossom is synonymous with spring and this beautiful cultivar is a sure-fire winner for so many reasons. Apart from its mass of double pink flowers that look a bit like tiny pink roses, it’s ideal for limited space gardens. What’s more, it is fully hardy and grows almost anywhere and in any type of soil.

It develops red ‘haw’ berries and the leaves turn delightful shades of yellow and bronze in the autumn.

Although, the one thing to watch out for are the sharp thorns on its branches, a small price to pay for all the other fantastic attributes of this gorgeous small tree.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 8m tall and 8m wide
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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So, bring some spectacular colour into your garden this month. At this time of the year, our gardens can be full of flowers and foliage that are in the warming weather and sun.

Spring is here, see my post on spring pollinators:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

spring pollinators
Spring pollinators
Pinterest
Pinterest Board


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