the oast garden in may

Take a tour with Sarah Raven around the Oast Garden at Perch Hill and discover her favourite flowers and plants in the garden and helpful hints on creating a gorgeous garden full of colour.

The Oast Garden is looking really amazing today and it's extraordinary, I don't think we'll ever get it again because the tulips are so late this year that they're coinciding with the alliums, and honestly I don't remember that ever happening before. The heat of the last two days has brought the alliums and yet the tulips are just emerging too, so it's exactly how I want the bold and brilliant garden to look. There are wonderful drifts of the mauvey Allium hollandicum and then these lovely long toms with the three tulips in them - this is a combination of the Harlequin Tulip Mix, which I'm so pleased with. So there's the 'Muriel' parrot tulip, which is a late, and 'Orange Favourite', which is a late tulip, and this amazing 'Night Rider' which is also late.

So I think you just couldn't have a better combination of having the Venetian Tulip Collection in a pot that fits exactly in your ornamental pot and that has already gone over, over there, and that can come out and then you slot in these. And so if you've got a pot on your patio or pair of pots by your door or something, you know, you could have both those collections and it means you'd have wonderful tulips basically from sort of the end of March, beginning of April until now, you know, we're right in at the end of May and these are very, very famously late flowering ones, so it works really well.

And there's some few other things I want to share as well. This is wonderful, this 'May Queen' oriental poppy, I mean it is a bit of a runner, you can see it spreads, its roots spread quite readily. But it is called 'May Queen' because it's just so beautiful in May and has lots and lots of buds. And then it does go over and you cut it down and we've got dahlias that come up through it, so that works really well.

And the angelica is just fantastic there, I love that huge angelica. And then over here is Smyrnium perfoliatum and that's another of my absolute favourite plants. It's sort of triennial, which means you sow the seeds and it doesn't actually flower, not the next year like a biennial, but actually the year after that so it's in fact two years really between when you sow it and when it flowers but it's totally worth the wait. And it grows very happily in shade, this is under the oak tree here and so it, you know, it's just such a good plant. One thing about it, is that is self-sows and the self-sown seedlings look a bit like grand elder so people always tend to weed them out. But as long as you know what it looks like, you don't need it out. It's a wonderful plant.

This is another of my favourite plants called Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum' and it's actually a wild flower that apparently you find in Transylvania all the way in the stream valleys in just drifts of it. But I just love it for its sort of thistly softness, if that isn't a contradiction. But also it flowers from May until August and it's got beautiful foliage so it's just a really good garden perennial. One of my absolute favourites.

These are two different types of aquilegias, and the reason I love this one, which is the species Aquilegia vulgaris, is that it just self-sows and I really love that it does that. I just put one plant in the garden, I don't know maybe three years ago, and you can see it's got one there now, it's got several down here, it's got one here. It always just seems to put itself in exactly the right place. And then I put this one in, which is I think called 'William Guiness' which is a sort of black and white one, or not black, but crimson. And funnily enough it has sort of reverted just to the crimson and I love that too, so that has now self-sown.

And so for May you've got the alliums and the aquilegias and they just get on with it, I don't have to stake them, they're lovely picked - particularly if you sear the stem ends in boiling water. You know, they really transform a May garden which can be quite dull because the bulbs are all over and yet the perennials and the roses are yet to get going. So I think both aquilegias and alliums - and euphorbias, of course - work incredibly well.

So altogether it's just kind of really exuberant, abundant, colourful and bold and brilliant which is, you know, exactly what I wanted this garden to be, so I'm very pleased.

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