Although we have been blessed with a beautiful April, May is when the garden really begins to wake up and it’s the time when we all gear up ready for the Summer ahead.
This is the time for active lawn maintenance and really the last chance to sow or lay new lawns until autumn without using our sprinklers. Thanks to our recent rainfall, the lawn will need weekly mowing from now until autumn and the edges will need trimming.
Plant out any strawberries and sow runner beans outside and construct your wigwams or cane supports for them. The end of the month is the best time to plant out tender courgettes, aubergines and the colourful summer bedding plants.
This is also the time to repot pot-bound container plants in pots about 10cm bigger than the current ones. Give them a good feed and tie-in any long climber shoots to their supports with soft twine or string.
Protect from pests
The insects are now becoming much more active as temperatures rise, so be especially vigilant about pests. Pick off scarlet lily beetle from your lilies (their larvae rapidly defoliate plants). Watch for vine weevil in container plantings – irregular-shaped notches to leaf edges are tell-tale signs (the young grubs in the soil eat the roots really quickly!) If possible, use natural nematodes to control them at the end of the month.
Check your roses for black spot, remove and discard all infected leaves on the plant to prevent it spreading. They may need spraying with a fungicide throughout the growing season to keep it under control.
If you find aphids/greenfly on your rosebushes, as an alternative to shop-bought pesticides you can spray them with washing up liquid solution (the same strength as you would use for washing dishes) and on a cloudy day, spray the whole bush, including the tops and undersides of the leaves and buds. You may need to repeat this treatment regularly to keep your roses clear of these pests.
You can now cover soft fruit bushes with netting to prevent birds eating the fruit. If you are growing strawberries, put straw around or under them.
Prune Spring-flowing shrubs
Your Spring-flowering shrubs will be finishing their flowering display so now is the time to prune these – eg:- Ribes, Weigela and Forsythia,, these all flower on this year’s growth, so prune them back into shape just after they have finished flowering to give a beautiful display next year.
“The Chelsea Chop”
To check the growth of perennial plants which can grow too tall, you can make the plants branch out by cutting or pinching off the growing tips. Plants which respond well to this treatment are Rudbeckias, Solidago (Golden Rod), Heleniums, Phlox and Michaelmas Daisies. This should reduce their overall height by about 25% and although they may flower a week or two later, they won’t be so prone to collapsing or being blown over at flowering time.
Feed your spring bulbs with a granular fertiliser or blood, fish and bone, to give them an energy boost and help them flower next Spring.
Remember to take some time to sit in your garden to relax and enjoy the sights, sounds and atmosphere of your beautiful surroundings.