May Gardening Tips
One of the many wonderful things about May is that, in this area at least, there are usually no more frosts from about 10th of the month. This is a liberating feeling in the garden. It means that hanging baskets, pots and borders can be filled with colour by planting out bedding plants. Colour combinations can be wildly bold or romantically muted. We are so fortunate in the UK to have a vast range of bedding plants available to us. Many of these plants, such as Geraniums, Fuchsias and Petunias are old favourites but there are always new and exciting varieties of them to try, as well as Verbenas, Nemesia, Cosmos and the delightful daisy-like Osteospurmum.
Bedding plants gained their name from the rather formal bedding systems of the Nineteenth Century. During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries a huge number of plants were introduced to Britain from abroad. They were soon being propagated on a grand scale in greenhouses on large estates and “bedded out” when they were about to flower. Complex patterns and shapes were created in formal beds designed to inspire admiration in all who saw them. They were also a mark of the status of the landowner. These days many people seem to opt for perennials, but there is a lot to be said for the instant hit of colour you get with bedding plants, and you can enjoy that colour from now until the first frosts of autumn relatively inexpensively.
Bedding plants do need regular watering and they benefit from regular feeding. Some composts contain a certain amount of plant food but this is used up over time. Granular fertilisers are available. Otherwise a liquid feed is usually the easiest way to keep your bedding plants looking good throughout the summer. It is a really good idea to carry out some dead-heading as flowers fade, removing the old heads encourages the plant to flower over a much longer period. Most of all bedding plants are to be enjoyed for what they are – a bit of fun and a splash of colour from May to September.
Freedom from frost also allows tender vegetables to be planted out, such as Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Aubergines and Peppers. And you can sow Marrows, Courgettes, Runner Beans and Sweetcorn.
Taller perennials may need supporting to prevent them bowing and snapping. Watch out for weeds that will start to appear, and weed borders as required. Early flowering shrubs such as Kerria japonica, Forsythia and Ribes, that have finished flowering, can be pruned and given a tidy up.
Continue with your lawn care regime, cutting, feeding and weeding as required. If you like a closer cut then gradually adjust the mower blades for a shorter lawn as the month progresses. However, if we get a dry spell later in the summer remember that slightly longer grass tends to fare better than grass that has been closely mown. A little love for your lawn will pay off and help to ensure it is looks its best over the summer months.
Enjoy this wonderful, colourful month