Clumber Gardener: Experts will help you chose the best plants for the summer

Chris Margrave, head gardener at Clumber Park
Chris Margrave, head gardener at Clumber Park

The changeable spring weather has really put our gardens to the test and it is interesting to note which varieties have fared best given the combination of bitterly cold winds, snowfall and heavy rains interspersed with mild, sunny spells.

Some spring flowering bulb varieties have performed better than others.

This is an area where the plant trials work carried out by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) can prove very useful to gardeners wanting to know which varieties to plant.

RHS trials cover the full range of garden plants, assessing, for example, hardiness, pest and disease resistance and flowering in ornamentals or yield in vegetables and edible fruits.

In 2012 the RHS conducted a trial on the performance of hyacinths, the aims of which were to draw attention to the range and colour of their flowers and to award the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) to the best performers.

Further information about the AGM winning hyacinths and other trials can be found on the RHS website

Many of the hyacinths we grow in our gardens date from the 19th century.

They have deservedly stood the test of time and others, such as Ostara and City of Haarlem have been awarded the AGM from earlier plant trials and assessments.

The classic spring bedding combination is to grow hyacinths with other bulbs, such as tulips, and bedding like the low growing bellis daisy, winter-flowering pansies or forget-me- nots.

For knock out scent, grow them with wallflowers.

When you’re next visiting a garden centre, take a look at the label on the plant.

Some may have the trophy symbol which indicates the variety has been awarded the AGM.

May is often the busiest month of the year as daylight length increases and temperatures rise.

Hardy annuals can be direct sown into prepared soil this month to provide easy colour.

Sow carrots, beetroot and salad leaves such as lettuce and rocket and for best results, water the base of the seed drill before sowing your seeds.

Harden off tender and half-hardy plants by gradually acclimating them to cooler, outdoor conditions.

They can be planted out when the danger of frost is past, usually towards the end of the month.

Water new plantings in dry weather, a thorough soaking to the soil around the plant is better than a superficial spraying.

Watering in the evening will make best use of water.

On dry, sunny days keep annual weeds in check with a hoe.

Continue staking taller growing herbaceous perennials such as delphiniums.