By mid May the dreaded Saints de Glace days of potential frosty nights will have passed and we will be all systems go for a busy season of plant fairs, plant buying, plant pricking out, transplanting seedlings and actual planting. The days should be warmer, sunnier and long enough to get busy in the garden.
I’ve got seedlings on every window sill in the warmest and sunniest parts of the house. The sweet peas have already enduring being topped where I’ve trimmed back the strongest growing shoot to encourage bushier growth, they are just ready to be transplanted to their new outdoor home. The cosmos are coming along nicely in a race with the zinnias to see who gets the prime outdoor spot. I’ve got some broccoli and kale going too because I cannot be without either. The courgettes and aubergines are already in the ground as are the artichokes – I’m so excited to see how they all do this year. I try to keep on top of things year to year by taking (masses of) photos and keeping notes in a garden journal. Everything was a little scorched last year which means that even with vigilant watering the plants often just gave up – the air temperature was just too much. Let’s hope for somewhat milder temperatures this year.
If you haven’t managed to grow your own flowers or vegetables and salad from seed fear not there are so many plant fairs to choose from; here are a few to get you started:
Jacquet will host open days les journées des plantes from 10-13 May at their base in Satigny. Explore their pépinière each day and on Friday and Saturday learn about improving the condition of your plants and improving the quality of your garden soil – bring a soil sample along and they will analyse it for you on site (Chf 15). On Saturday children’s activities are arranged for little ones ages 4-8 years – see their website for sign-up in advance and further information.
Gallay Fleurs in Cartigny continues their Vente de plantons à la ferme from 11-14 May. See their FaceBook page for more information.
The much missed Jardins en Fête event in Coppet is returning for the first time since 2019 under a new banner and a new name the Coppet Garden Festival. A new team is behind this first event from 12-14 May in the garden of the Château de Coppet Coppet Garden Festival Check out their extensive list of exhibitors.
The Geneva Botanical Gardens will run a petit marché aux plantes du jardin botanique on Saturday 13 May from 10:00-18:00. A number of interesting exhibitors will be present including ProSpecieRara (heritage seed, plant and animal experts) Niels Rodin (the citrus guru), SRARH Société Romande des Amis des Roses et de l’Horticulture, and locally known growers including Rémy Jaggi of Trélex and Roussillon Fleurs of Meyrin among others. Organisers encourage you to bring your own means of transporting your plant purchases – I’m wondering if a wheelbarrow would be too cumbersome (!).
The 16th edition of the Marché de Galifee in Geneva will be held on Saturday 13 May from 09:00-16:00. It’s a great place to pick up plants and flowers for the balcony and window boxes. Be aware that the street name has been changed and is no longer Chemin Galifee but now Chemin Annie Jiagge!
On the banks of the Lake of Neuchâtel the wonderful journées des plantes de Vaumarcus runs from Friday 19 – Sunday 21 May. There will be a large number of growers and exhibitors present – plenty of seedlings and lovely plants to take home with you.
There are also many pop-up flower sales in villages throughout La Côte, these are often only one morning events so keep your eyes peeled for your local events.
We are lucky to enjoy Sunday openings this season (including holidays) at Rémy Jaggi in Trélex until Sunday 4 June and Schilliger in Gland. Sunday 14 May is Mother’s Day in Switzerland and many smaller florists and garden centres may be open in the morning to accommodate this – support your local horticultural and floral professionals.
Following the success of my spring workshops I’ve decided to run two summer container planting workshops on Thursday 8 and Saturday 10 June from 10:00-12:00. We’ll be combining locally grown perennials and aromatics from Rémy Jaggi in Trélex along with some summer plants for long lasting summer interest. Both will be held in the walled garden of l’Heure du Thé in Chéserex during their summer open house days 8-10 June. If you need a new summer hat this is the place to find it.
The No Mow May initiative really seems to be growing from strength to strength. Perhaps you are already aware of it. Leaving your lawn to do its own thing this month promotes the growth of lots of wild flowers especially dandelions which provide easy access to pollen for bees and other insects at the onset of the growing season. If this is too much for your neat lawn habits how about considering the dedication of a specific area of low mow or no mow lawn. I’ve got a steep area of grass that is now packed with wildflowers which I pretty much leave to its own devices, cutting it back once at the end of the summer. The variety of flowers is amazing as it the diversity of the insect life that inhabits it, that is surely a good thing.