“..adorned like sweet May”: This is the time of year when foliage is at its freshest and most vivid. New grass lights the fields. In the garden unfolding leaves shine in the morning sun with lime and zingy acid greens. Fluffy sweet cicely and cow parsley contrasts with the curling structure of emerging ferns.
“Rough winds do shake…”: It is not difficult this first week in May to remember that the weather can be wild – it is snowing outside as I write. Plants don’t thrive when there are big fluctuations in temperature. Particularly young and tender seedlings. Try to protect from cold at night, and excessive heat during the day, keep greenhouses ventilated and move seedling away from south facing window cills.
“It droppeth as the gentle rain..”: Water any newly planted specimens during dry periods. Give particular attention to larger plants and trees. Water copiously, but seldom.
“This goodly frame the earth…”: Catch up with weeding and mulching, delayed by the cold weather. When the soil warms enough for good weed growth, sow french beans and runner beans where they are to grow. Sow salads and plant sprouted potatoes. Sow brassicas for next winter’s harvest, such as kale, purple sprouting broccoli and winter cabbage.