In the garden - So much is happening in the garden this may . . .

PUBLISHED: 01:16 30 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:16 20 February 2013

In the garden - So much is happening in the garden this may . . .

In the garden - So much is happening in the garden this may . . .

So much is happening in the garden in May. The time when colourful combinations of vibrant blooms and heavenly hawthorns come alive....

In the garden with the team at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

So much is happening in the garden in May. Cherries, Rhododendrons, Lilacs and Crab apples are but a few of the plants giving us a plethora of colour.

The vibrant blooms of the deciduous Azaleas, such as Klondyke with its striking orange-gold petals and coppery-red young leaves, give an amazing display.

The subtle, cool white flowers of Deutzia setchuenensis var corymbiflora, dont clash with the Azalea. Brights and whites often work well together.

Highly aromatic flowers of Convallaria majalis Fortins Giant,
a tall growing form of Lily-of-the-Valley, make a superb, if not somewhat vigorous, under-planting.

Heavenly hawthorns

The hedgerows seem to really come alive at this time of year when the May Flower starts to bloom. The native hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, reliably flowers in May every year and this has earned it the right to its common name. The fruits of most species are edible and are quite popular with birds, but for us they tend to be quite mealy and are best made into preserves. There are around two hundred species of Hawthorn, most coming from cool climate parts of Europe, Asia and the Americas. They can be enjoyed for a range of features including early flowering, autumn colour, bright fruits and some species such as C. cruz-galli (the Cockspur thorn) have amazing, decorative thorns. Most species are armed and thorns can range in size from a few millimetres to several inches. They can be grown as a hedge, pruned to shape like a Box or privet, but many species have a nice shape if left to grow naturally. Flowers are either white or pink and can be single or double. One of the prettiest of flowers can be seen on C.x media Pauls Scarlet, these are deep pink, double flowers and are produced en masse in late spring. Fruits are usually either red, yellow or orange while some species produce fruits that can be eaten raw with a taste similar to apples. Hawthorns are superb shrubs and are worth growing as a decorative plant or as a good way to encourage wildlife into the garden.
- Barry Clarke, Acting Deputy Head Gardener


During the second half of May plant out bedding and half hardy subjects such as Dahlias and Salvias. Keep some protective fleece on standby just in case of a cold spell!
Review the rock garden and replant using a loam based John Innes number two compost and incorporate some potting grit at the same time to ensure good drainage.
Chelsea chop perennials, such as Sedum, towards the end of May. Prune shoots with secateurs and remove one third of the growth. This will delay flowering a little, but a more compact plant will result.

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is managed and operated by Hampshire County Council. For more information on the gardens visit

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