by Janis on 31st May 2024 / 0 comments

The fruits of our labour

Well, it’s been another mixed bag this May, from the glorious Spring sunshine where you seek shade to the torrential downpours with thunder. It’s also this time of year when everything is growing at an untold speed, and some of the clematis blooms are magnificent.

Although incredibly, we witnessed the Northern Lights from our back garden in Kent. Seeing them pulsing in the night sky was amazing and a very rare experience.

Another piece of good news is that the weather has been kind enough for us to dust off the BBQ. We’ve already managed to squeeze in a few evening delights; however, there’s nothing better than spending a few hours in the garden, then sitting down and enjoying a bratwurst or two and a cold beer while listening to the birdsong.


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northern lights over our home in kent as seen from our garden
The Northern Lights from our garden in Kent

What we’ve been up to in May

In the garden and on the website

After a few months of nurturing my seedlings from the tiniest of sprouts to young plants, ushering them from the warmth of our conservatory to hardening up in the cold frame, I’ve finally managed to plant out the majority of our juvenile plants.

Some of the little plants are doing well; however, I think it may have come as a shock to others. I’m not sure they were quite prepared for the heavy rain or the stampede of young starlings.

Three rows of plants being brought on in the coldframe on the patio of our english country garden
Bursting cold frame

Although I must say my tomato plants are coming along a treat, they are loving their new home and already appear to have grown a couple of inches in a few days. This year, I’ve stuck with a method similar to the one Monty Don demonstrated on Gardener’s World.

Monty’s method was to cut a length of twine and loop one end around in a few circles. Then place it in the grow bag or compost and place your tomato plant on top. Gently pull the twine up and tie it to a support above. This allows you to guide the plant up and support it as it grows.

Young tomatoes plants in the coldframe on the patio of our english country garden
Tomatoes ready for planting

I used the same approach last year, and it worked a treat. This year, I have stuck to a similar method, although instead of planting directly into grow bags, I removed the compost from the bag and placed it in a trough, as I think it looks aesthetically better.

Fingers crossed, they will flourish again this year.

Our young tomatoes plants in their final planting spaces against the fence on the edge of the patio of our english country garden
Our Tomatoes in situ

Our three varieties of chillies are also getting stronger; they have now been transferred to larger pots and are enjoying life in the warm conservatory. We chose Cayenne Mix, Scotch Bonnet, and Cayenne Hot Lemon.

Once again, my Rudbeckia seeds came to nothing, so I’m not too sure I’ll attempt them in years to come. The complete opposite can be said for my sunflower seeds. I should have learnt by now that these are always a winner.

Clematis Josephine Evijohill

For the first time, I’ve grown some Canary Creeper seeds, and the ones that have taken are growing so well that I’ve put them in patio pots with an obelisk above, which they just now need to strengthen. I also hope my Morning Glory plants will flower earlier this year.

I would also like to add that our garden beds are looking like a treat; we’ve passed through the blue phases and are now entering the vibrant oranges, yellows, and pastel pinks.

Achievements for May

Let’s keep ticking those boxes

It is gradually getting warmer in the southeast of the UK, and the long, bright evenings certainly make a difference. I do love the months of May and June.

It feels like me against the weeds at the moment, and I’m not too sure who is winning. Our forget-me-nots have now been cleared, and daylight is beaming through the plants beyond.

A close-up of the orange and purple Iris ‘Grand Chief’ in the cottage garden bed of our garden
Iris ‘Grand Chief’
A close-up of our pink and red scentimental floribunda rose in the cottage garden bed of our garden
Scentimental – Floribunda rose

Our roses are gradually blossoming, and our clematis Josephine Evijohill looks resplendent. I also love watching the wildlife in our garden, this weekend we’ve welcomed so many birds, including a pair of woodpeckers, a jay, finches, tits, blackbirds, an inquisitive robin and the ever-present collared doves, starlings and sparrows.

Oh yes, and we’ve got an acrobatic squirrel.

So, let’s see what we’ve managed to tick off for May.

Planted out our seedlings of sunflowers, cosmos, morning glory, canary creeper, and love-in-the-mist, to name a few.

I potted up six chilli plants, although there are a few small ones still to do.

Planted out my overwintered softwood cuttings.

More weeding in the main cottage garden.

Tidied up the front garden.

Started to fill our patio pots with bedding plants.

Planted eight of our home-grown tomato plants and secured them for the months ahead.

Checked and reconnected the irrigation system.

Moved our money trees outside.

Lessons learnt & mistakes made

You live and learn

We are still battling the geraniums in our garden. They are extremely invasive and, at times, a challenge, but there are worse things to have issues with.

In hindsight, I wish I had grown more patio climbers, as I was hoping to buy some black-eyed Susan; however, my favourite garden centre, Spadework, isn’t stocking any this year. I’ll have to go on a mission to find more.

Our plans for the coming month

What’s on your to-do list?
Nurture and feed my flourishing tomato plants.

Plant up our remaining chillies.

Visit our local charity garden centre, Spadework, for more bedding plants.

Tackle the raised bed area of our garden.

Continue to monitor our garden tasks on the RHS Planner; this online tool is so handy.

Continue clearing weeds and unwanted planting in the Cottage Garden section.

Maintain and clear some of the herb garden.

Decided on the planting for our two front garden beds

Prune unruly shrubs in the secret garden.

Please let us know what you have planned in your garden this month; we’d love to know.

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