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The Garden in May

02 May 2017 by Pennells Garden Centre
The Garden in May

The early warm weather in April has been followed by colder and drier weather reminding us that there is always the chance of ground frosts well into May and for the need to water newly planted trees and shrubs.

Long days and warmer nights herald the start of the planting season for tender flowers, patio planters and tropical vegetables that hate our British frosts. On display will be all manner of flowering shrubs including ceanothus, decorative cherries, rhododendrons, and lilacs, plus herbaceous perennials such as aquilegia, hardy geraniums, peonies and bleeding hearts (dicentra).

It is important to harden off seedlings of tender plants before you plant them out in the garden. Geraniums, busy lizzies, petunias and the like are grown in hot houses that mimic the warm tropical climates from where they originate. They may be tropical in origin, but can put up with our cool nights, just as long as they don’t feel the lethal finger of frost. Place the pots or trays outside in a sheltered position where they can acclimatise to cooler conditions. A covering of a sheet of plastic at night will help them grow strongly during the next 3 weeks and give them some protection. While you are waiting for this hardening process prepare the soil where they are going to grow so that it is rich in organic matter and can hold the maximum amount of water.

A plant that will add style and elegance to the garden is clipped box. Try planting in pairs on either side of a path or the door to the house. They can be grown as individual trained geometric shapes and standard specimens in borders or large pots, as well as dwarf hedges or edgings. To keep topiary in shape, the young shoots need clipping two or three times during the growing season.

One extra job that you can do to improve the look of your flower beds and one that helps bedding to grow consistently better is to mulch the soil surface with a decorative bark. This not only decorates the soil surface it reduces moisture loss and suppresses weeds.

Watch out for aphids (greenfly and blackfly) on roses, delphiniums, lupins, foxgloves and pansies. They can multiply with phenomenal speed, so a weekly check throughout the garden armed with a suitable hand sprayer is ideal. Ask at your local garden centre on what is the best way of controlling them.
Now is the time to plant up hanging baskets, patio pots with tender flowers such as fuchsias, geraniums, pelargoniums, busy lizzies, petunias and all manner of trailing plants such as begonia, lobelia, erigeron, helichrysum and verbena.

This months to do list!
• Continue sowing veg, particularly salad crops, little and often.
• Protect young plants and veg from slugs.
• Trim back the side shoots of gooseberry plants.
• Protect fruit bushes, especially currants and gooseberries from bird damage.
• Feed fruit with Garden Fertiliser
• Earth up potatoes.
• Once your greenhouse tomatoes have flowers don’t forget to tap them occasionally to help pollination
• Plant out sweet pea plants.
• Support tall perennials to prevent damage

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