Maintenance Jobs for the May Garden
I think May is the best month for gardens, with all the freshness of spring and the promise of summer to come. Just taking a leisurely stroll through a garden can lift the spirits, so make the most of May’s warmer weather and get out there!
Now is the time to ‘change your bedding’! Spring bedding plants will soon be over whilst others are just gearing up for their summer display now. A wide variety of summer bedding plants are on show at nurseries and garden centres. If late frosts are forecast, those tempting tender geraniums and other non-hardy annuals are best left in the garden centre until about the middle of the month.
Continue to deadhead spring flowering bulbs that have gone over; this allows the bulb to store up more energy to produce flowers next year. You must leave the foliage intact for at least 6 weeks after flowering, but simply snap off the flower heads with your fingers or a pair of secateurs. Use a general organic fertiliser around the base of the bulbs to encourage the development of new flowers for next year.
Hardy annuals are fantastic plants to have in the garden. They flower for weeks and are very easy to look after. If you have children, hardy annuals are great plants to encourage them to take an interest in sowing and growing things. Sow a mixture of varieties now for a dazzling summer display. Examples are: Nigella (love in a mist) – both flowers and seed heads are good for cutting; Limnanthes (the poached egg plant), which is excellent for attracting bees; and Tropaeolum (nasturtium), both the compact and scrambling varieties are bright and cheerful.
If you planted new shrubs and trees over the winter keep an eye on them, especially in dry weather. A few days of sun, accompanied by drying winds, will dry out the soil surprisingly quickly so watering may have to be done on a daily basis. Any organic matter, such as well rotted manure, garden compost or even a layer of grass clippings applied as a mulch, will help with retaining water. If possible, water in the evening when there is less chance of water evaporating in the heat of the day.