March 2017 / June 2017

May 2017

Hi there gardening friends,

It’s finally 1 May and, according to the calendar, spring is here. The sky is blue, the birds are singing, and for most of us life is beginning to return after the long, dark winter.

I’m taking a round in the fruit garden. The garden has already put on some fantastic displays here at Kungsvägen 10. Thousands of crocuses, which are now over, have been replaced by a sea of white anemones, anemone blanda, White Splendour,unbroken white. In A Gentleman’s Bulb Club we also have red and blue anemones on our bulb list, but personallyI prefer the white ones(I became something of a white freak after visiting Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst, with its famous White Garden, many years ago).

Alliums are now developing quickly and I guess there will be approximately 1,000 in bloom within a few weeks. First of all it will be the turn of  Purple Sensation, which usually flower in the fruit garden at the same time as masses of red poppies, followed a few weeks later by Christophii, which are not as tall but have much larger purple balls. Alliums are among the plants that really thrive in our garden. Others include anemones, winter aconite, scillas andfritillaria meleagris.

I’d like to say a few words in favour of camassia, which are rarely seen in Sweden but have no problem with the cold, at least not in our area. These elegant, long-lasting plants flower in May-June. They caught my eye 3-4 years ago when visiting a garden in England (if I remember correctly, it was the fantastic Ness Botanical Garden in north-western England). Since then, we’ve had camassia both here in the garden and in the bulb club’s list. Camassia mainly come in various shades of blue/blue-grey, such as quamash ’Blue Melody’, which has 30-40 cm-high stems carrying a mass of dark blue, star-shaped flowers. There are, though, also white/cream coloured varieties, for example leichtlinii Alba (which reach a height of 70-80 cm). As far as I’m concerned, camassia make a wonderful contribution to the garden in early summer. They originate from the mountains and prairies of western North America and camassia bulbs ones constituted an important part of the diet of the native tribes. I’ve read that roasted camassia bulbs have a similar taste to sweet potatoes, but are even sweeter. However, truth be told, it’s much cheaper to use ordinary sweet potatoes in cooking. 

We’ve just come back from England, where we saw some wonderful gardens, such as Brodsworth Hall outside Doncaster in South Yorkshire (, where English Heritage has recreated a Victorian garden around a semi-derelict Victorian mansion. Exuberant topiary is one of the most impressive features of the garden.

In North Wales, we visited the National Trust-owned Bodnant Gardens (, which attracts more than 250,000 visitors each year. The garden is most famous for its rhododendron, azaleas and camellias, which can easily compete with our own Sofiero outside Helsingborg. As luck would have it, we visited at exactly the peak of the rhododendron flowering. Amazing views, amazing colours!

Our timing was less successful when we visited the privately owned Cholmondeley Castle ( in Cheshire, about 25 minutes’ away by car from Chester. The daffodils were more or less over, but everywhere there were signs that, had we visited two or three weeks earlier, we would have witnessed at least several hundred thousand daffodils in full bloom. HOWEVER, even without the daffodils the garden was one of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen, and a visit there is an absolute MUST if you find yourself in the area.

England is at least a month ahead of us in terms of flowering, but here too it’s slowly becoming green and things are starting to move. At the moment I’m engaged in dividing plants (just now it’s the turn of the snowdrops), and I’ve also been planting lots of martagon lilies – also among my favourites. At this time of year, there’s something to do in the garden every day. It’s now time for my last cup of morning coffee and then it’s to work on planting...

Take care,

Stefan, A Gentleman Gardener