The City Gardener: June 2019

June 01 2019
The City Gardener: June 2019

By Tim Barton

I didn’t make it to Chelsea Flower Show this year, for one reason or another I didn’t manage to get a ticket and even if I had I don’t think that there would have been the time to take off work. I can say though, with all honesty that if it was anything like the previous years then it would have been excellent. There is always a vast amount of coverage on the BBC with 2 shows a day covering the event in the minutest of detail from the vastly extravagant show gardens on Main Avenue to the small independent nurseries that come to promote their horticultural prowess. You wonder after 5 days how they manage to find anything new to say about a specific design idea or garden feature and often they don’t, if you do want to catch up on the TV coverage then it’s best to be selective of which shows you watch.

It’s said that Chelsea flower show is a bit, if not a lot, elitist and I can see where this view comes from. The RHS are very particular about how they present themselves as an organisation, they maintain a world class view that they are the very pinnacle of horticultural excellence, and they are. What Chelsea is for if to showcase the very best in this field, from garden design to promoting new ways that we the general public should be gardening. The gardens are certainly self promotion for the designers that are lucky enough to get the chance to exhibit there, and to the well heeled visitors to the show it’s a chance to see how they might transform their chic London yards into something spectacular, at a price. But for everyone else it’s a gorgeous spectacle that serves as a source of inspiration for their own gardens. The planting combinations are very carefully thought out and come from a desire to achieve a particular look, this is something that’s hard to see when you’re overwhelmed with plants at a nursery or a garden centre.

Another thing that’s noticeable in these gardens as opposed to many, and especially mine, is that there is a definite common theme that runs throughout. If you’re anything like me then your garden resembles more of a botanic garden with one of everything and little though to how they work together, if it grows then I’ll stick it in. What is harder but certainly gains a more aesthetic appearance is to limit the different plants to a minimum, making sure that you don’t overdo the different aspects of the foliage for example. It’s a good rule of thumb when you’re buying plants that you don’t buy one each of four different plants but rather buy four of one or even two of two. This way you can follow a theme through a bed but also get a fuller look sooner, it’s always a difficult time when you plant a small specimen, knowing that in two years it’ll be filling a vast area but having to wait with what seems like acres of bare soil around them. Making a mature looking garden takes years partly as the plants take time to establish but also it’ll move around several times as you get a feel for what you want. Don’t rush it, choose carefully but most of all don’t stress, take it easy and have fun.



  • Lift and divide snowdrops, bluebells and other spring bulbs now that the leaves are yellowing and dying back

  • Plant out summer bedding plants

  • As soon as sweet peas flower start picking them to encourage more

  • Pinch out side shoots from tomato plants and remove the top when there are 4 trusses

  • If not done already plant out tender vegetables such as courgette and squashes

  • There’s still time to plant some beans directly outside

  • Keep mowing any lawns but raise the blades if there is prolonged dry weather to prevent stress

  • Erect some protection around carrots to protect against carrot fly

  • Install a water butt because you’re going to need a lot of water over the coming months