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Your Garden In May

2nd of May 2008

We had a touch of summer in February and winter in April so with any luck spring should be with us in May. Traditionally this is the month when we plant window boxes and containers and towards the end of the month we plant our bedding plants since we rarely get frosts then. Geraniums, petunias, busy lizzie, antirrhinums, salvias and begonias will be in the garden centre now together with edging plants such as alyssum and lobelia. Geraniums, begonias and fuchsias with a variety of new and traditional trailing plants make good subjects for hanging baskets and all kinds of containers.
Godetia, nigella, candytuft and clarkia are usually sown direct in the garden and thinned out a necessary. Gladioli, dahlias and canna and other sumer-flowering bulbs can be planted out now. Keep on top of the weeding and look out for slugs and snails and deal with them before they chew up your favourite plants. Bedding plants benefit from regular feeding with liquid fertilizers such as Miracle-Grow or Phostrogen, whereas roses and perennial plants are better fed with a powdered fertilizer such as Toprose. Roses should be sprayed at about three-weekly intervals with something like Rose Clear to keep mildew, rust and black spot away. When spraying roses apply a little of the sprat to campanulas and hollyhocks to keep them free from rust. As the daffodils and tulips die down, dead head them and apply fertilizer to build up the bulbs for next year.
In the vegetable garden it is time to sow beetroot, carrot, lettuce, radish, spring onions, spinach, French and runner beans, summer cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, peas, swedes and sweetcorn. Plant out the courgettes, marrows, peppers, tomatoes and aubergines at the end of the month together with the runner beans. Use Growmore fertilizer on vegetables and make sure they are regularly watered. Tomatoes and cucumbers need regular watering and it is a good idea to plant a few marigolds amongst them as a traditional method of keeping whitefly away.
Gardens open this month include Patchwork, 22 Hall Park Gate, Berkhamsted and Ragged Hall, Gaddesden Row, both on 4th May. The Abbots House, Abbots Langley is open on 11th and Great Sarratt Hall on 18th. The Hertfordshire Garden Show will be held at Knebworth on 4th and 5th and the County Show at Redbourn at the end of the month on 24th and 25th. Chesea Flower Show runs from 20th to 24th (0870 842 2217 for tickets) and the Malvern Spring Show from 8th to 11th.
Terry Simmonds

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