Plants and flowers
If you sowed drifts of annuals earlier in the year, you’ll have seen them really begin to get going in the warmer weather. Before they crowd each other out, thin the seedlings to encourage the remainder of the plants to grow strongly.
If you haven’t already, you can still divide herbaceous perennials to increase your plant stock and fill gaps in your borders as they develop. You can also divide hostas as they begin to grow strongly.
The bright, arresting flowers of aubretia make a welcome sight in the early garden, but they’ll need cutting back now to encourage a second flush of flowers.
Take cuttings of pelargoniums now, to create a really abundant display.
Tie in the shoots of rambling and climbing roses before they turn into unweildy ‘monsters’. Try to lay the shoots horizontally where possible as this will produce more flowers.
Top dress any containers that you have to ensure all your outdoor pot plants have a fresh supply of nutrients.
Try to feed your potted plants every 2-4 weeks with a balanced feed as they’ll tire the compost out quickly.
Harden off any tender summer bedding before finally placing out to avoid frost damage.
Keep an eye out for trouble
As the weather warms and the plants get growing, the other wildlife in the garden gets going too – not all of it welcome! Start looking now for rosemary and lily beetle larvae and remove them where you find them.
Weed your beds and lawn regularly to keep on top of thistles, docks, nettles, bindweed, ground elder, brambles, dandelions, creeping buttercup and any other perennial or persistant weeds that you do daily battle with!
Keep earthing up potatoes, leaving just the top few leaves above the soil.
Thin out lettuce and spinach as the new plants begin to crowd each other.
Pinch out the tips of broad bean plants as soon as the bean pods begin to appear to reduce the risk of blackfly infestation.
Make supports for your runner beans.
Support peas and sweet peas, to encourage them to grow upwards.
Hang traps in plum and apple trees to reduce the risk of moth attack.
Check gooseberry bushes for sawfly and remove any insects immediately as they will devour the leaves swiftly.
Put straw around your strawberries.
Keep everything well watered.
Rake out any thatch if you’ve not done so already and tine your fork into the turf at regular intervals to encourage good drainage – this will alleviate scorching in dry, compacted areas and reduce moss growth in boggy areas.
Treat the lawn with a good weed killer and fertiliser. Avoid letting children and pets onto it for 24 hours afterwards and thoroughly water in the dressing so that is gets to work at the roots fast.
Seed any bare patches but do not mow until the grass is established, or at least 3 inches. Cut the lawn regularly during the summer to maintain good growth. Water frequently.
May is perhaps the most magical month in the garden when all the growth is still new, fresh and full of vigour – the weeds haven’t overtaken and all the excitement and colour of high summer are yet to come. Have fun…