Spring is so unpredictable; rain, sun wind, hail, thunder, rainbows, some warm days – some cold nights. The sun comes out, we put out the deck chairs, the sun goes behind a cloud and the temperature drops like a stone. The new leaves, more unfolding everyday, are a positively mouthwatering lime green. Woodland plants race to flower before they are shaded over by the growing leafy canopy. Wake up with the birds and hear the dawn chorus.

Iris laevigata

It is a good time to appreciate water in the garden, its reflective qualities, the surrounding boggy ground and the range of May flowering plants that relish these conditions. Iris laevigata or Japanese Iris loves to have its feet in the shallows. Usually deep blue, there is also a soft and subtle white variety. Candelabra primulas thrive in bog gardens and damp soils. They have a striking presence, come in sweetie colours and go on flowering for weeks. Thalictrum aquilegifolium in contrast is as fluffy as you like, but the deep pink/purple flowers and feathery foliage goes well with the leaves of Hosta ‘Blue Angel’. Planting hostas by a pond which has a good frog population will ensure the slugs are kept at bay.

Thalictrum aquilegiifolium, Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ and pink candelabra primula

Prune early spring shrubs after they have finished flowering, thin the branches that have borne flowers, taking them right back to a main branch. This will keep the whole plant going strongly and encourage new wood for next year’s flowers.

Beasties: look out for bright red lily beetles and attractively striped rosemary beetles. Squash them, don’t hesitate. Viburnum beetle reduced the foliage on the Viburnum opulus in my garden to rags. They smell bad. I cut the whole thing to the ground last year, there are now new shoots emerging. Will they succumb to the dreaded beetle? We shall see.

As ever: weed, feed and mulch.
Sow seeds under glass or indoors, especially the big ones like courgettes and french beans. It should be warm enough to sow outside before long: lettuce, spring onions, carrots and chard,

If we get a long dry spell – hard to imagine but it does often happen in spring, don’t forget to water.

Have a joyful month.

Rain and the Japanese garden at Tatton Park