May Gardening Tips
Frances Hope, Head Gardener at Loftus Garden Village, shares her gardening tips for this May.
May is my favourite month of the year!
The garden has woken up from its long winter sleep and everything feels alive and refreshed. My alarm clock has become redundant with the birds taking over the job of waking me up in the mornings with the most exhilarating dawn chorus. I love that fresh uplifting smell of new growth that’s everywhere at the moment. Trees and plants all around are bursting their buds into life and it just makes you feel good to be alive!
Here are a few things to be getting on with this month:
- Bedding plants and baskets are there beckoning in the shops but unless you have a green house to put them in be patient and resist the temptation to buy. We can still have frosts that will see them off, so it’s best to play safe and wait till the last week of May before putting out any tender plants.
- Along with the joy of bedding plants comes the not so joyful battle of the slugs especially if you like Marigolds. Remember that slug pellets don’t just kill slugs and snails they get in the food chain and kill birds and hedgehogs too, so get your organic weapons together ready for the fight. Beer traps, copper bands, slug nematodes, crushed egg shells, even spent coffee grounds I’ve heard work well. Alternatively, and much easier, is to plant bedding plants that slugs just don’t like such as begonias and geraniums.
- If you want to make up your own baskets, now is the time to do it. Choose plants with a trailing habit for the sides such as trailing Lobelia, trailing Petunias, etc and something with a taller habit for the centre such as an upright Geranium to give height. Mix water retaining gel and slow release fertiliser into the compost and don’t be too skimpy on the size of your baskets, a bigger basket will be easier to look after as it is less likely to dry out. Water your baskets thoroughly every day without fail, even in the rain, as a canopy of foliage can act like an umbrella and dead head the flowers regularly. Give a liquid feed of tomato feed once a fortnight to unsure new flowers just keep coming and you will have baskets to be proud of.
- Sow a Hardy annual border and create a haven for bees and butterflies. You will amaze yourself at how easy it is to produce an impressive flower display with not a lot of effort. There are so many flower seeds that can be sown in situ, all it takes is good soil preparation, a bit of creativity in your design and then apart from pulling out any obvious weeds you just let nature get on with it. Nothing beats the vibrancy and freshness of the colours and the hum of insect life is just wonderful. You will really feel you’ve done your bit for bio diversity.
- Set up a water butt to recycle rain water off your roof. With longer days and warmer weather comes the need for more watering. Anything in a container will need watering at least every few days, even daily in really hot weather and anything that is newly planted or has been dug up and divided will need watering until established.6 Keep pulling out your weeds and if you get behind with the job, just pull off and bin the flower heads. Whatever happens do not let weeds flower and seed, the old saying of one years seeding, seven years weeding is very true.
If you need to get yourself re-motivated, watch gardening programs, read garden magazines and maybe challenge yourself to enter a gardening competition like In Bloom 2016 – gardening competition open to all Derwen and Charter tenants!