Plants to enjoy in May

Is it late Spring or early Summer? With our climate it’s hard to tell, but it’s that happy time in a gardener’s year when everything is bursting into life and clumps of perennials seem to double in size weekly.  There’s lots to do and keep on top of, but also much to enjoy.

Wisteria Sinensis
Wisteria Sinensis. Photo: Primrose UK

Wisteria is the classic early-flowering summer climber.  Patience is a virtue with this one as it may take five years to flower for the first time, but it’s well worth it when it does.  At 10m tall, it will need a large wall or pergola and fertile soil in sun or light shade.  Wisteria Sinensis is a Chinese Wisteria with lilac-purple fragrant flowers in May.

Syringa Vulgaris 'Primrose' Tree
Syringa Vulgaris ‘Primrose’ Tree. Photo: Ornamental Trees

Lilacs (Syringa Vulgaris) can be grown as small trees or large shrubs and bear trusses of sweet-scented flowers that are very attractive to butterflies and bees.  Foliage is mid-green and heart-shaped.  The flowering season is relatively short but a summer-flowering climber can be grown through the foliage to extend the season of interest.   Lilacs require well-drained soil and a sunny spot.

Orinoco Bearded Iris
Orinoco Bearded Iris. Photo: Telegraph

Bearded Iris.  These flamboyant, ruffled blooms are stunning at this time of year.  Available in just about every colour and with mid-green sword-like foliage, they don’t like to be crowded or shaded by other plants and like a sunny, well-drained mediterranean environment, so team successfully with the silver-leaf colours of rosemaries, lavenders and cistus.