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Your Garden in MAY

Your Garden in MAY

YOUR GARDEN IN MAY

After the very cold weather we had earlier in the year, it's now safe to say that spring is most definitely here. May is a lovely month in the garden; borders are bursting with colour and scent, and evenings stay lighter for longer. It's also a busy month, with lots to be getting on with.

Firstly, any spring flowering shrubs, whose blooms have faded, need pruning now. With shrubs like broom, Forsythia and Ribes (flowering currant), you should cut back the flowered growth to strong, young shoots lower down. Cut out any dead or damaged stems and, depending on how congested the plant is, you can remove up to a third of the oldest flowering stems. This will rejuvenate the plant, creating a good display next year.

If you have a Spiraea arguta, it may well still be in flower because of the cold early spring but, once its lovely, arching sprays of white flowers have faded, it too will need cutting back. Prune the flowered stems to a non-flowering side-shoot or to a healthy bud. You can also cut back flowered shoots of Choisya to promote a second flush of flowers in autumn.

All your lovely spring bulbs will probably have finished now. Deadheading your daffs not only looks neater but also means that the plant's energy is returned to the bulb. Leave the foliage to die down naturally, again strengthening the bulb for next year. Divide congested clumps, moving some to a different part of the garden.

This is the month to get summer bedding plants into containers. If using large pots, remember to plant them up in their final positions, as they can be too heavy to move when full. Add moisture-retaining crystals to the compost to help reduce the amount of watering needed, and use a balanced liquid feed every two to four weeks to promote healthy growth. Towards the end of May, you can start to plant summer bedding out in the borders too.

Inspect plants closely for pests and diseases, as early prevention is easier than curing an infestation. Pick off larvae of rosemary, viburnum and lily beetles as soon as they are seen.

Look out for signs of blackspot on roses and treat with systemic fungicide if discovered.

Weeds will be growing strongly now. Regular hoeing will keep smaller weeds at bay, but you'll need to dig out the roots of perennials like dandelions. It really is satisfying when know you've got the whole lot out! Paths, drives and patios can be kept weed-free by spraying with a path weedkiller, which should prevent weeds returning for several months.

May is a good time to trim evergreen hedges, such as lonicera, box and yew. Small hedges can be trimmed with shears but larger hedges are best tackled with a hedge trimmer. Remember to check the hedges for nesting birds before you start.

I've chosen the evergreen Azalea 'Pleasant White' as my feature plant for May, when its bright, white flowers are at their most showy. It looks fabulous in a container, but make sure you use ericaceous compost!

MAY ON THE VEG PLOT

Erect strong supports for climbing beans and around broad beans. Last year, strong winds in June damaged some of my broad bean crops. I'll be placing strong poles at each corner of the broad bean row and wrapping soft twine around these, and the plants as they grow, to prevent them being blown over.

I grow my climbing French or runner beans up six 2.5m hazel poles tied at the top in a wigwam shape, sowing two bean seeds at the base of each pole. Alternatively, garden centres will have bean plants in now, if you want to give yourself a head start. Have fleece handy to protect from frost or cold winds until the plants are established.

Earth up potatoes, aiming to do this three times during the next few weeks. Sow sweetcorn, courgettes, pumpkins, squash and cucumber under cover to plant out next month.

Check crops regularly as aphids and slugs will be active, use your preferred method of dispatch if discovered.

Check out the garden centre for a wide range of vegetable plants. Try something new or something you have forgotten to sow.

Keep using that hoe!

https://www.bartongrange.co.uk/plants-and-gardening/gardening-advice/ Thanks to WILL

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