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Wednesday 1 May 2019

This Month in Your Garden - May

'Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment'. -  Ellis Peters 

All the careful planning, neat planting and border tidying and there’s always some plant, some flower, pops up to astonish us. Now where did you come from? May is always full of surprises and with the frosts passed we can sow and plant more to delight the eye in the months to come. Early bulbs have gone over so we may be thinking about lifting them if they are overcrowded.

You don’t want to cut off the leaves because the bulb needs to absorb and store the energy they give as they die back. The leaves should be left for six weeks before cutting so if it’s not practical to lift the bulbs then better to leave them where they are and let them die back naturally. Give them a liquid fertiliser feed. Alternatively they could be heeled in by digging a shallow trench and placing the bulbs with the leaves exposed when you cover them with soil.

Later, you can lift and store until you’re ready to plant them again in the autumn. Now is a good time to start propagating by taking softwood cuttings. You can increase your plant stock and save money into the bargain, as you can by dividing spring flowering plants for next year’s display. You’ll know when it is warm enough to plant out your summer bedding, usually towards the end of the month after the danger of late frost has passed.

Meanwhile you can be hardening off plants raised from seeds and cuttings and if you have some shady areas in need of livening up, plant busy Lizzies, begonias, lobelia, mimulus and Senecio cineraria. Tie in your sweet peas and check climbing plant supports. Take a break with a cup of tea and enjoy the sights and smells of your garden in May.

  • Watch out for greenfly on roses and spray where necessary
  • Plant out hardy annuals raised under glass
  • Hoe those weeds
  • Open greenhouse vents and doors and let the air through
  • Plant out cannas and dahlias
  • Keep hanging baskets, tubs and containers well-watered
  • Take softwood cuttings of fuschias and other tender perennials
  • Thin out direct sowings of hardy annuals 

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