Garden inspiration

pink flowers

What to Plant in your Garden in May

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.

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, they are great plants to encourage them to take an interest in sowing and growing plants. 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 are excellent for attracting bees; and tropaeolum (nasturtium) – both the compact and scrambling varieties are bright and cheerful.

yellow flower with a deeper yellow centre

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.

a hand holding compost

Sow and plant out tender vegetables  at the end of the month and begin harvesting the first delicious early vegetables planted out earlier in the year. To guarantee a regular succession of young vegetables throughout the summer months, sow seeds at weekly intervals so you don’t get a glut all at once. Although it’s a bit of a chore, hoe in between plants and vegetables as the weeds start to spurt in the warmer weather. Keeping on top of the weeds at this time of year will pay off in the long term.

lettuces growing in the ground

When growing fruit and vegetables it’s vital to attract pollinating insects to increase the chances of a bumper harvest. The best way to do this is by growing some nectar-heavy flowering plants around the edibles. For example sowing seeds of poached egg flowers directly under soft fruits will attract bees, hoverflies and other beneficial creatures. A good plant partnership is to grow sweet peas with climbing beans on a wigwam of canes. The sweet peas provide colour and interest to the structure, along with attracting pollinators.

a bee on a purple flower

If you’re participating in ‘No Mow May’, know that you are doing your bit towards a more environmentally friendly world. There has been a marked drop in the number of flying insects in Britain over the last decade and there’s much we can do in our gardens to stop this decline. Many species of bees and butterflies rely on wild flowers for nectar and pollen, while other insects use the tall grass for shelter and a place to lay their eggs. Birds and small mammals such as mice, voles and hedgehogs also benefit from the extra cover provided by the uncut grass. Just leaving a small area of uncut grass can make a big difference!

daddy long legs in long grass

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