TIPS FOR GARDENING IN MAY
- In your greenhouse or tunnel, you can sow seeds of parsley, chives, basil, dill, coriander, fennel, mint and sage.
- Prune spring-flowering shrubs after flowering, such as forsythia and kerria.
- Don’t allow your garden plants to exhaust their food reserves; act now for the very best results. Feed them generously to ensure that every garden plant performs to its full potential. If you can’t feed regularly, use a time saving, slow release formula that drip-feeds food over several months.
- Sow sweetcorn in deep pots, raising strong plants to plant outside in June.
- Tie in new shoots of blackberries and cane fruits to support wires.
- Plant out container-grown roses and shrubs.
- Keep newly planted trees and shrubs well watered until established.
- Place collars around the stems of brassicas to prevent an attack of cabbage root fly.
- Collect hellebore seeds from ripe pods, and store in an envelope in the shed or sprinkle over prepared soil.
- Pinch off strawberry runners as soon as they develop, to stop them competing with developing fruit for nutrients.
- Take swift action with emerging weeds, don’t let them become a problem.
- Spread shredded bark mulches around established shrubs and trees to conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds.
- Feed houseplants weekly from now until autumn.
- Wash dust off the foliage of houseplants, and apply leaf shine product to leafy plants.
Give it a try… If you are looking for an easy-to-grow plant that produces masses of scented flowers then the night-scented stock is ideal, its open sprays of pink, mauve or purple flowers, which are 2cm (0.75in) across, are fragrant at night. Position plants around seating areas and along paths in the garden so their scent can be enjoyed in the evenings. Plant in large clumps to get the full impact of their scent. Available to buy as a plant now if you’re not seed sowing inclined.
One of the most popular garden styles is what call the “cottage garden”. The cottage garden traditionally was essentially a working garden in which to grow ornamental and edible crops. Fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers, such as peonies, delphiniums and aquilegia's, were all combined. The flowers ensured a thriving population of beneficial insects to aid pollination and encourage a bird and wildlife population all of which helped produce vigorous and healthy crops. The quaint, homespun appearance of a cottage can look quite simply. Don’t confuse this simplicity with a mix of every kind of plant. Give some thought to your colour combinations, shades of the same colour will add depth, a mix of blue, purple, light pinks with a hint of silver foliage will look cool. While vibrant reds, oranges, bright pinks and a little maroon are hot summer colours. One of the best things with a cottage garden scheme is that you can correct your mistakes easily because you are using perennials (that is plants that die back in winter and reappear every year). Herbaceous perennials can easily be moved in the dormant season. Experiment, place colours together if they work great, if not try again. It’s the surprises that make it fun.