A touch of frothy blossom to welcome in the month of May. Flowering is late here in the top half of the country, the year has been cold so far. Flowering trees and shrubs are bringing the garden to life. Later warmer weather will start perennials off in the colour relay race
Grow from seed – With temperatures dipping up and then down the soil is still quite cold so to get best results from raising plants from seed sow under cover (greenhouse or light window cill) courgettes, french beans, chard, lettuce or salad onion. Once conditions improve sow carrots and parsnips outside.
Or Buy – It is a bit late to sow tomatoes. Better anyway to buy in little seedlings, especially if you only need a few. The greenhouse is the best place for these. This goes for courgette seedlings too. While you are browsing your local garden centre why not buy some night flowering annuals such as Nicotiana sylvestris (tobacco plants) and night scented stocks, these will attract night flying insects and they will attract bats. If you don’t fancy the bats console yourself with the lovely scent that will waft over your garden in the still summer evenings.
Chelsea Chop – Later in the month cut back some summer flowering perennials by half. This will lessen the need for staking as the plants grow more bushy, and will also delay flowering time. This is handy if you away in August and want to enjoy your garden in September. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a particularly good subject, but anthemis, echinacea, phlox, rudbeckia and asters all do well under this regime.
Red Menace – Squash lily beetles without mercy. If the beetle is bright red with no spots, squash it, it will decimate lilies and fritilaries. Slugs and snails will be active, be beady eyed.
Go Potty – Frosts should be an unlikely occurrence after the middle of the month, so throw caution to the winds, and plant out bedding plants in containers, for a summer show to dazzle and delight.
Mind the Birds – Prune shrubs after flowering lilac, philadelphus, forsythia osmanthus ceanothus. Feed and mulch for strong growth. But please don’t cut hedges or trees as birds will be nesting.
Fill the Can – Water trees and shrubs that have been planted this winter. Their roots are not yet robust and they need extra attention as they come into leaf and flower.