The lovely month of May brings exciting times in the garden, with something new appearing each day. Beds and borders come to life with fresh growth filling bare spaces, and tired spring flowering bulbs are suddenly replaced by nodding heads of aquilegias and other early perennials. Bedding plants bring bright bursts of colour to pots, and azaleas and rhododendrons put on a show. There’s often so much going on, it can be difficult to know where to start with the jobs list in May!
1. Create summer hanging baskets
Hanging baskets can really brighten up the outside of your property, and are simple enough to create. The trick is to use good quality compost with a slow release feed and water retaining crystals, with a suitable basket, and a bunch of healthy basket plants. Be sure to water often and thoroughly, and regularly deadhead to encourage more flowers throughout the season. We have masses of basket plants to choose from at this time of year, so you can really get creative. But if you simply haven’t the time, opt for our ready-filled baskets which are always available, or order a bespoke basket if you want something more specific.
2. Prune spring flowering shrubs
Be thorough and tackle pruning your shrubs that flowered in the spring. Once flowering has finished, they need pruning to encourage healthy growth and a good display next year. Remove dead or damaged stems, and cut back at least a third of the oldest flowering stems for best results. May is also a good time to tidy up evergreen shrubs before any new growth starts, by removing dead or diseased stems, and thinning out overcrowded stems. This will improve the look of your shrubs, and encourage healthy growth.
3. Plant summer bedding
Create a vibrant and colourful display in your garden with summer bedding plants. Consistently producing masses of colour, they will liven up a quiet corner, and look spectacular on your patio and paths. Refresh existing pots and containers, or treat yourself with a range of some of the beautiful pots we currently have in stock. Choose simple terracotta, colourful glazed pots, contemporary metal containers, painted planters, or wooden casks to put on an impressive display. Remember to add water retaining crystals to the compost to help reduce watering, and feed with fertiliser during flowering.
4. Focus on perennials
Time to tidy up growth on last year’s perennials, if you haven’t already done so. Trim back lavender flower heads and about an inch of this year’s growth, and cut back penstemons to new growth at the base of the plant. If existing perennials have lost their vigour, then try dividing now to create new plants, and when planting out, be sure to give each new plant sufficient room to grow. Fill gaps in your borders with new perennials, remembering to consider height and structure when placing your new plants. You’ll be spoilt for choice with our huge range of perennials, and we’ve even got shade-loving plants for those awkward spots in your garden too.
5. Support your veg
If you’ve been busy in your vegetable beds over this last month, then there’s likely to be plenty of growth with this wonderful mix of rain and warm sunshine in May. Prepare for climbing plants such as runner beans and french beans with a structure of canes and twine to support their rapid growth. Plant french beans out towards the end of the month, and wait until June for the runner beans. Plant peas with twiggy sticks or pea netting for support. We stock a wide range of plants supports and accessories, so you’ll find everything you need to keep your vegetable beds under control, and growing in the right direction!
6. Tidy your pond
Ponds are a lovely feature for a garden, yet they can quickly become congested with plants, and start to look rather untidy. If you have a small pond, some species of pond plants can simply be too invasive and take over, so consider your plants carefully if you are looking to add any new varieties. We stock a range of aquatic plants, including water lilies and marginal plants to enhance your garden pond. Plant up in aquatic baskets with specialist aquatic compost, before placing in position. Don’t be tempted to use ordinary compost as it is too rich and encourages algae. Any existing pond plants that have become overcrowded can be lifted and divided, but it is best to leave this until late summer or early autumn to avoid too much disruption to pond life.
7. Harden off plants
Harden off vegetable plants that you have successfully grown from seeds, to prepare them for planting out. Place them outdoors in a sheltered spot, bringing them in again overnight, for around a fortnight. Using a cold frame can help you with the process, and produce plants ready for outdoor conditions. Tomatoes, courgettes and pumpkins really need time to acclimatise, and need warmer weather to flourish, so look to plant out early next month. If your success rate is low, then take your pick from our wide range of ready grown vegetable plants to boost this year’s potential harvest.
8. Look after soft fruit
It is a pleasure to be able to eat strawberries that you have grown yourself, but they do need some care to produce a good crop. Give each plant enough space to grow in well-drained soil rich in humus, and place straw around the plants to help to prevent fruit from rotting. Unfortunately your garden wildlife will enjoy the fruit as much as you, so net your strawberries to widen your chances of success. Other soft fruit will benefit from netting too to prevent birds and other creatures from eating your crop. Take a look through our different varieties of soft fruit plants to add interest to your homegrown fruit salad this year.
9. Tend to your lawn
Your lawn can be a large part of your garden, and needs a little attention too sometimes. The weeds grow as fast as the grass, so keep them at bay with a specialist lawn weedkiller, and adding a lawn feed such as a high nitrogen fertiliser can encourage healthy green growth. Repair any lawn damage and bare patches by sowing seed or returfing to prevent weeds growing in the gaps. If a frequently walked on area of your lawn is constantly struggling, try a different solution and consider laying a path or stepping stones to minimise wear and tear. Do ask for advice as we are always happy to help, and check out our large range of lawn care products, and hard landscaping materials suitable for most gardening needs.
10. Think ahead
As you enjoy planting summer bedding, gladiolus bulbs, and half-hardy plants ready to enjoy their flowers through to the summer, you could also think ahead to preparing for the autumn. Plant chrysanthemums and dahlias in May for late summer and autumn colour, and sow another batch of annuals in trays in your greenhouse to give you flowers late into the season. Choosing late-flowering perennials such as anemones, asters and salvia will help to lengthen the season of colour in your garden. Planting a range of fast growing annuals now will also help to provide extra colour should you have any gaps in your borders later on. We offer an extensive range of seeds in store, and always stock a wide selection of perennials.
Enjoy the warmer weather and all your flowers that appear in your garden during May. If any areas are really lacking in colour, it is easy enough to add a container or pot now for immediate impact, but for a longer-term display you may want to think about adding new plants to your border. Come along and visit us and enjoy a browse through some of the seasonal plants we currently have in stock. Happy gardening!