May In Your Garden
Spring was very late arriving this year with the majority of daffodils flowering in April rather than in March. Hopefully, the seasons will catch up and we should be able, with safety, to plant out the tender bedding plants towards the end of May as usual. Always be prepared to cover up vulnerable plants with something like garden fleece should we get a surprise late frost. As soon as possible, get the hanging baskets planted up in the greenhouse so that plants can get growing before the baskets are hung up outside. Use a good compost and add SwellGel which helps conserve moisture. Fuchsias, geraniums, begonias and busy lizzies are ideal plants for baskets and so too are trailing petunias, million bells, verbena, lobelia, diascia, helichrysum, bidens and bacopa. Herbs, srawberries and tumble tomatoes can be used to make up edible hanging baskets. Tubs, troughs and window boxes can be planted up too. Do find time to have a look at plant ideas on view at the garden centre. In the garden borders candytuft, clarkia, eschscholzia, godetia and nigella can be sown direct now and thinned out later. Towards the end of the month plant out the bedding plants such as geraniums, fuchsias,busy lizzies, asters, salvias, petunias, begonias, and edging plants such as lobelia and alyssum. Then plant out tubers of dahlias and cannas and the rest of the summer flowering bulbs such as gladioli. After flowering, remove dead flowers from daffodils, leave the foliage and add fertilizer. In the vegetable garden it is time to sow beet and carrots, cauliflower, and summer cabbage, plus peas, spinach and turnips. At the end of the month marrows and courgettes, aubergines, outdoor tomatoes and runner beans can be planted. The last of the seed potatoes can be planted now and the early potatoes should be earthed up as the foliage grows. Keep up with the hoeing and make sure that crops are watered as necessary. Feed with growmore fertilizer and make sure that slugs and snails are kept at bay. Herbs can be planted now and tender plants such as sweet basil can be planted soon. Carry out regular sowing of salads such as lettuce and radish so as to keep up a succession. Hardy border perennial such as lupins, delphiniums, penstemmon, campanula, dianthus, hemerocallis, lavender, salvia, verbena and verbascum should be planted now. All plants grown in containers can still be planted. Once they have flowered, spring flowering shrubs should be pruned. Roses should be sprayed against black spot, mildew and rust every 2 or 3 weeks. Feed roses shrubs and perennial with a fertilizer such as Toprose or Vitax Q4
Tickets for the Chelsea Flower Show which takes place from 25 to 29 May must be obtained in advance from 0844 338 7528 or rhs.org.uk/chelsea.
The Malvern Spring Garden show runs from 7 – 9 May and tickets may be obtained from 01684 584924 or at the gate (tickets for 6 May no longer available). Local gardens open to the public and well worth a visit include Abbots House, Abbots Langley; Patchwork, Hall Park Gate, Berkhamstead and Ragged Hall, Gaddesden Row all on 2 May; 9 Tannsfield Drive, Hemel Hempstead on 9 May and Great Sarratt Hall on 30 May. Terry Simmonds