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Gardening in May

Gardening in May

Your Garden in May...

With warmer days on the horizon, it's time to spring into action in the garden. 

May always feels like a turning point in the gardening calendar. The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer and we can really get stuck into prepping the garden for good times ahead.

Put some effort in now and you'll be rewarded with a beautiful, flower-filled space to enjoy when the sun comes out. So let's get our hands dirty!

First of all, to keep borders looking fresh and free of pesky weeds, we need to hoe the soil on a weekly basis. As the weather warms up and hopefully becomes a little drier, it's also time to introduce a watering regime.

A spring clean-up is always a good idea. Shrubs that have finished flowering such as Viburnums, Ribes and Forsythias should be pruned and trimmed back. Pruning immediately after flowering guarantees healthy new growth for the year.

With spring bulbs fading, it can be very tempting to cut the flower heads back to keep them tidy. Instead, you should leave them to die down naturally, as this will strengthen the bulbs next year. Also, don't be shy to divide congested clumps and move to other areas of the garden to add extra splashes of spring colour.

Spring perennials like daffodils and crocuses that tend to grow in clumps can be lifted and divided, as long as it's been about five weeks since they flowered. Replanting the separated bulbs will make sure they grow back vigorously.

Put supports for tall perennials in now, while the plants are small and it's still easy to work around them. This also lets you train the plants through the supports as they grow.

In almost every garden, there's a shady spot where you crave some more drama. Most people have dry or wet shade and find it very tricky to find plants to suit these spaces, so here are some suggestions.

If you have a dry garden with shade, why not try Alchemilla mollis and Aquilegia vulgaris to add some variety. Alchemilla mollis, commonly known as Lady's Mantle, is a very popular hardy perennial with vigorous growth, excellent for filling large areas whilst still looking pretty with its beautiful spray of tiny yellow flowers.

On the other hand, Aquilegia vulgaris, also known as Columbine, has a more compact growth, ideal for smaller, more contained areas. The erect, leafy stems stand tall, bearing bell-shaped flowers, typically in deep purple shades that will transform dark, shady areas into something special.

For your wet shade, look to Primula candelabra. These plants are filled with tiers of rosette-like flowers which burst into bloom to create a mass of colour that looks stunning when planted in blocks.

My feature plant for May is Azalea 'Kermesina Rose', a compact evergreen shrub that produces a fantastic abundance of light pink flowers with white margins. It creates an eye-catching display when planted in pots or in borders and will thrive in a sunny or shady spot. It's an acid loving plant so will need a good ericaceous soil in order to give it the perfect start.

It's quite a long to-do list! But tick these jobs off now, and come summer you can kick back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Happy days!

May on the Veg Plot...

May is a busy time in the vegetable patch, just beware of late frosts.

The weather is warming up nicely but keep an eye out for a late frost catching us out. Keep some fleece handy to cover anything tender overnight.

As potato foliage begins to show think about earthing up. This should be done three times during the life of the crop. Cover emerging stems leaving 5cm of foliage exposed. This is useful if frost is forecast to protect the crop. The action of earthing up also knocks back any weeds on the potato beds, it will increase the yield of the crop and prevent the tubers turning green by keeping them away from light.

Pinch out the tops of broad bean plants once the first mini bean can be seen. This will help to avoid black fly who like to feed on the tender young top shoots. Support broad bean plants with stout poles at each corner of the rows with soft string around the plants. These top heavy plants can get blown over if strong winds hit.

Sow sweetcorn, runner beans, courgettes, pumpkins, squash and cucumber under cover. These will all germinate quickly and will be ready to plant out later in the month.

Plant out tomatoes in the greenhouse. Erect strong supports before planting as mature fruiting plants will be heavy. Start feeding when the first flowers appear.

The garden centre will have a great range of veg plants, so if you miss sowing anything don't worry. Fill your plot with lovely plants carefully chosen for performance and flavour.

And remember keep weeding!


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