In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. Mark Twain
If you like your summer bedding for great splashes of colour in your gardening canvas, be prepared for a busy week or two at the end of the month.
Different schools of gardening thinking may be against or for annual bedding, brash displays versus colour all summer long until the first frosts.
Plant half-hardy busy lizzies, salvias and petunias, phlox and pinks among shrubs and herbaceous plants at front of border, nemesias and short tobacco plants (Nicotiana) in the middle, with tall delphiniums and cosmos towards the back. Add scatterings of fuschias, poppies, pelargoniums and marguerites, and you’re on the way to a riot of colour.
It’s always your choice, but what is noticeable in recent times is how quickly the garden centres rotate the selection of plants, which is a good excuse to frequent them so you don’t miss out on your personal selection. Not that you want to plant too early. Plants sitting in cold conditions will have their growth checked and take longer to get going than those planted when the soil has warmed up. Keep your bedding in conditions similar to those at the garden centre until you’re ready to plant.
Meanwhile, fork over the planting area, removing weeds and working in a little compost or add a little fertiliser if your soil is poor. Not too much though, you don’t want too much nitrogen which encourages leafy growth and fewer flowers.
- Plant dahlia tubers outdoors if not already started in a greenhouse or cold frame
- Harden off bedding plants and half-hardy annuals sown in late February
- Spray roses for blackspot and watch for greenfly
- Support tall herbaceous plants
- Feed daffodils to help build them up for next year
- Look out for vine weevil in containers
- Lift spring bulbs by mid-may but don’t cut off the leaves; ‘heel’ them in to a trench for now
- Take soft cuttings of garden shrubs
- Plant out hardy chrysanthemums