May is a wonderful month with just about everything growing after the long dismal winter.
We all hate weeding but do it now as it’s easy with the ground so wet. It’s also a good time to move perennials and shrubs.
Remove faded blooms from spring bulbs, retaining the leaves until they turn yellow to re-energise the bulbs – vital to feed the bulbs for next year.!
Prune spring flowering shrubs after flowering but before the next buds start re-growing. Lightly trim pre-July flowering Clematis woody stems – post July Clematis soft stems need to be cut hard back, as the latter flower on new annual growth.
Sow fast-maturing annuals and summer bulbs, plant out Dahlia tubers, and prepare hanging baskets.
Kitchen garden jobs to do:
Plant vegetables out, but check the ground is well prepared and rotate the vegetable position from last year to avoid generating pathogens. Use netting as pigeons are watching you planting with great glee.!
Cover ground under strawberries to prevent slugs and snails, collar cabbages, cauliflowers and sprouts to prevent very damaging root fly and earth up potatoes.
Plant families worth exploring
If you have a selection of plants that are growing well in your garden environment it may be worth researching the plant family. Many plants have similar characteristics such as being woody or herbaceous, foliage, fragrance, flowering length, hardiness and soil preference such as acidic or limey and shade or sun position.
Pea family (Leguminaceae or Fabaceae)
Good mostly long flowering plants, many with very attractive ornamental foliage, some fragrant, most hardy. Sweet peas, Coronilla, Lupins, Broom, Cytisis, Genista, Wysteria Laburnum, Robinia and of course vegetable peas all belong to this important family. (Beware though, some seeds in this family are poisonous!)
Foxglove Family (Scrophulariaceae or Plantagenaceae)
Many ornamental and hardy plants. Good flowering with long tubular flowers, attractive to pollinators. Foxgloves, Penstemon, Veronica, Verbascum, Antirrhinum and moisture loving Mimulus all belong to this family.
Rose family (Rosaceae)
Contains a wide range of hardy, ornamental plants many of which are fragrant. Ornamental and fruiting Apple, Pear, Plum, Cherry. Many berry shrubs, Cotoneaster (very good for pollinators), Chaenomeles, Pyracantha, Kerria, Spiraea, Sorbaria, Potentilla, Geum as well as, of course, and maybe the best of all, the huge variety of Roses.
Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae)
Again, a wide range of tough, woody, many hardy, and very fragrant long flowering plants. Viburnum, Abelia, Honeysuckle (shrubs and climbers), Sambucus, Weigela, Leycesteria, Snowberry and many more are all in this family.
Bell flower family (Campanulaceae)
Many long flowering plants which are excellent for summer borders, containers and hanging baskets. Lobelia, Campanula
One of the must haves flowering from Spring through Summer into late Autumn. Many long flowering plants, a mixture of perennials and annuals (some tender so treat as annuals.) Helianthemums (rockery perennial), Heliopsis (border perennial), Helianthus (annual and perennial sunflower), Heleniums (sneezewort), Cosmos, Gaillardia, Rudbekia, Aster, Doronicum and some tender annual south African cape daisies (Osteospermum) and not forgetting reliable hardy Erigeron.
Have a truly wonderful May and dare I say the weather is promising!!