Marvellous May Plant Colour


Many plants vie for my attention during the month of May. Here are four of my favourites.

Cornus alternifolia "Argenta"

Cornus alternifolia "Argentea" is commonly known as the "Variegated pagoda dogwood". Originating in Asia, its common name relates to its shape which resembles a sacred tower in China. This large deciduous shrub or small tree can have ultimate height of 3 metres (9ft); with a spread of approx 2 metres (6ft). Within the next week its layers of slim branches are dotted with clusters of star shaped yellowish-white flowers, followed by blue-black fruits. A special mention for the bright green leaves edged yellow which turn reddish-purple in autumn. You can use the "Variegated pagoda dogwood" as a large specimen shrub or as a small tree simply by pruning a pagoda dogwoodsblower branches as they appear, this will create a clear stem and a showy canopy. To ensure quickest growth you must position this plant in full sun. I would highly recommend this dogwood if you have limited space and require a tree that will not over-power you garden.
Many garden centres may not have it in stock but it is only a phone-call to their suppliers away, and well worth waiting for.

Kolkwitzia amabilis "Pink Cloud

Kolkwitzia amabilis "Pink Cloud is commonly known as the "Beauty bush". This fast growing deciduous shrub is a native of China and grows to an ultimate height of 3 metres (9ft); with a spread of approx 2.5 metres (7 to 8 ft). Because of this size and it's slightly old fashioned mounded look it is not a shrub I see planted in many new gardens. This is unfortunate as the "Beauty bush" lives up to its name whilst in flower. For at least the 3 weeks you can expect to see showy masses of bell shaped pink flowers with a yellow throat. These flowers are held amongst its small oval grey-green leaves on slightly arching branches. Kolkwitzia amablis "Pink Cloud requires a position that receives upwards of 4 hours sunlight a day in a soil that is limey or alkaline. Prune or cut back after flowering.
If you are looking for a specimen shrub or a larger shrub for the rear of a bed then do not over-look this old time stalwart.

Ribes sanguineum

Ribes sanguineum commonly known as the " Red Flowering Currant" or "blood currant". This large deciduous shrub can have ultimate height of 3 metres (9ft); with a spread of approx 3 metres (9ft). A native to the United States, it is frost hardy and right now is laden down with pendulous reddish pink flowers. These flowers which resemble miniature bunches of grapes are held amongst light green leaves from mid to late spring. Both the flowers and leaves are scented, the leaves especially so when bruised or crushed. The "Flowering Currant" is mostly used in the mixed border as a showy specimen plant although I have also used it in whip planting schemes to good effect. If you would like to cut some flowering stems to bring indoors, they will last approx 6 to 10 days. To ensure quick growth plant in a position with full to partial sun and an adequate supply of water. I would highly recommend this shrub if you have a problem growing plants due to air pollution as it is very resistant to exhaust fumes etc.
Two cultivars or varieties to look out for are "Pulborough Scarlet" and "King Edward VII"

Alyssum saxitile

The clump forming perennial Alyssum saxitile is commonly known as the "Basket of gold". This native of Europe is evergreen and grows no higher than 20 cm (8 inches); it has a spread of approx 30cm (1ft). Because of its size and its ability to tolerate drought it is ideal for planting in cracks in your paving, crevices in your walls and of course in the rockery. For at least the next 4 weeks you can expect to see clusters of tiny vibrant yellow flowers above its grey-green leaves. Alyssum saxitile requires a position which drains freely and receives upwards of 4 hours sunlight a day.
If you would like to attract some butterflies to your garden then plant clusters of Alyssum throughout, sit back and watch as the yellow flowers draw them in.

As a general rule, deciduous plants transplant well in late autumn and winter. Evergreen plants tend to tolerate transplanting better in early spring.

View further information on this topic in the Irish gardeners forum >>>>

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"James, thanks for the garden layout. With your help we finally have flourishing planting in our shady back garden."

- C McDermott, Galway City
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