May 2019 at Colby Woodland Garden

A volunteer adding stone borders in the walled garden

As the walled garden springs into action, gardener Christine shares an insight into what's been happening, from brilliant borders and sowing seeds to tackling weeds.

Springing into action

Our south facing border has taken the lead and features a nice collection of Scilla peruviana, also known as Portuguese squill, a Mediterranean perennial bulb, the leaves of which are more or less evergreen. From late April they produce bell-shaped flowers that open gradually over a three-week period on 10-inch stems. 

With the slow rise in temperatures over the last couple of weeks, it’s not just the Scilla enjoying the improving warmth, with the alliums now also having their time in the spotlight. Leading the bulbous perennial group is Nectaroscordum siculum, also known as honey garlic.

It slowly emerges into clusters of graceful drooping bell-shaped pollen-rich flowers standing up to 1m in height. These are a magnet for bumblebees, beneficial insects and other pollinators. The flowers are followed by decorative heads that remain up until the end of the summer. 

Top tipNectaroscordum siculum are best planted at the front of a border, where other plants can be seen through the stems.

Our borders have been really defined by edging them with stone sourced from the Colby Estate. This work has been completed by our dedicated volunteers throughout the year and in all weathers… even snow!

Scilla peruviana and Nectaroscordum siculum in flower
Spring flowers in the walled garden
Scilla peruviana and Nectaroscordum siculum in flower

Sowing seeds and tackling weeds

There’s a lot to do in the walled garden at this time of year, seeds such as Stipa tenuissima, Chionodoxa (glory in the snow) and poppies, which were gathered from the garden in the autumn, need to be sown. These were collected on a dry day when the seed heads had ripened.

The dry seeds were labelled and kept in paper bags in a dry environment over the winter. Once the seedlings have developed, they will be potted up and grown in our propagation area with some planted in and around the walled garden and the remaining ones sold to our customers. 

Unfortunately, as well as the flowers bursting into life, the weeds have too. With the annual hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) taking the lead. It's really hard to control with its ability to produce and disperse large amounts of seeds, sometimes up to a metre away. 

During the spring and summer months this is a daily task and by tackling them early hopefully it will solve a lot of problems in the long run!