Clapham Garden (Part 3): pots happening in May?

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Spring started early this year, with a warm March and April, during which I planted out most things in the garden. The garden still looks quite bare because most of the plants are tiny – I wanted to go in small and grow things rather than plant out fully grown stuff. Where’s the fun and challenge in that? 

Almost everything is now growing in May though, and fast, except for a few casualties. The Pennisetum setaceam Rubrum oriental grass appears to have rotted in the last of the winter wet and cold before it got a chance to grow. My Acer Wilson’s pink dwarf sapling was also hit by the last cold blast, shedding its first leaves but appears to be recovering well, and the plum tree’s first early leaves also appear to have died.

And that’s it!  It’s true I’ve gone totally potty for plants in pots as my obsession has escalated over the last few months. So, to keep a record of what’s going on, I’ve taken photos of some of the pot plants at this early stage in May. Can’t wait to compare in June and July.

To add to the ferns, I plonked a Hart’s tongue fern into the tall pot. It’s been munched on by snails grrr. A full on snail war has been brewing, literally, with beer traps everywhere, plus nematodes for the slugs…

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Been dying to get one of these, so ordered a tiny Brunnera Jack Frost seedling to eventually go in the bed under the plum tree. It doesn’t look like much now, but they look amazing fully grown and love shade…

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The two fuchsia seedlings are really starting to grow now (I’m pinching them into bushes)…

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One of the Vibernum Tinus standards – which I wasn’t that excited about after it flowered – looks fantastic with its new leaves, filling it out with bright green (the second seems to be about three weeks behind this one but has more berries)…

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I love Hostas, and this Hosta Francee (which seems to be incredibly popular this year, even featuring in many gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show) is doing really well. The other one, like the vibernum, appears to be a few weeks behind this one, I suspect because of a micro-micro-climate created by our house in one corner…

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The two Heuchera (Liquorice and Marmalade) are coming along and both in flower. The flowers are simple but I like them. The Helleborus Ivory Prince has stressed me out by going really droopy. But after a water and some fertiliser appears to have bounced back with its prehistoric-like leaves. I have a bit of an unintentional plant traffic light going on here…

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Nasturtiums are so bog standard loads of people hate them. However they were my first plant to grow from seed as a bouffant toting nine year old, so love them for sentimental value but also because they look so different to everything else in the garden with the umbrella leaves. I’m growing a dwarf bush variety (three per pot) with subtle colour flowers. These two took a battering in the recent hail, ripping holes in the leaves, but all of them are of course doing well – they’re so easy to grow and have gone from seed to bud forming in less than two months…

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Love the Sempervivum Minus succulent in square pot with the neater alleyway behind it…

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Oh, and I’ve done some re-jigging of the honeysuckle into the small raised border as it wasn’t doing well in the pot. I have a different pot friendly Honeysuckle Firecracker in the pot, but it’s mini…

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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