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Gardening – MAY

Gardening – MAY
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I think that 2014 will be remembered as one of the kindest years to the gardener in a long time. From the start of this year it looked like it was going to be a good one for plants – the weather was mild so the early flowering plants really put on a fantastic display and weren’t spoilt by any sharp frosts, which also helped the fruit tree blossoms (normally damaged by frost). May last year was a difficult one for people exhibiting at Chelsea Flower Show as plants were not coming into flower, this year the Flower Show should be a great one, no excuses for the growers. Listen out for me on BBC Radio Derby on Monday 19th as I will be doing my normal gardening show live from Chelsea with Andy Potter who will be interviewing the celebrities that we meet. Pictures next month!

Allotment or Vegetable Patch:

• Feed strawberries as they are forming fruit with a liquid tomato fertiliser or powder sulphate of potash

• Earth up potatoes by moving soil or compost up around their stems

• Hang pheromone traps in apple and plum trees to control pests

• Remember to pick rhubarb as it develops and water clumps with liquid feed

• Remove strawberry ‘runners’ as soon as they grow otherwise they take nutrients from the mother plant. Pot up runners in plant pots to make extra plants to plant up in the autumn

• Feed fruit trees and bushes with sulphate of potash

• Watch for signs of powdery mildew on fruit trees and bushes and treat with a fungicide

• Plant out crops raised under glass, such as tomatoes, marrows and courgettes

• Prevent birds from eating your soft fruit by covering small bushes with netting

In the Greenhouse:

• Remember to properly ventilate your greenhouse, poor air circulation can encourage disease

• Keep a look out for pests, check under leaves and new shoots for signs of attack – usually red spider mite, whitefly or greenfly

• Try hanging sticky traps over plants to catch any whitefly

• Important to water growbags and pots regularly, sometimes daily if needed in very warm weather

• Pinch out the centre of any cuttings to promote bushy growth

• Liquid feed any planted up hanging baskets

General Garden Maintenance:

• Still a great time to sow new lawns with grass seed – remembering to water well if there is a lack of rain

• Rake out any dead grass from lawns

• Feed the lawn with a suitable lawn fertiliser

• Check for daisies and dandelions, and dig them out

• Plant out container grown trees and shrubs – remembering to water well if there is a lack of rain

• Tie in any new growth of climbing plants, such as honeysuckle and clematis etc

• Buy a water butt to collect any rainfall to use later

• Buy a compost bin to recycle any green waste from the kitchen and garden

• Apply bark mulches around newly planted or established trees & shrubs to retain moisture and help suppress weeds

• Sprinkle a handful of sulphate of potash around fruit trees and bushes

• Give camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and pieris a good handful of ericaceous (acidic) fertiliser

• Clip hedges and apply a granular fertiliser

• Keep topiary in check by giving a light clip now

• Hand weed beds to prevent weeds  establishing

• Watch out for red lily beetle on the leaves of lilies. You can easily squash any you find or spray with a suitable pesticide like Provado Ultimate Bug Killer

• Apply teak oil to wooden garden furniture to condition and improve to look of it for summer

• Look out for greenfly and blackfly developing on shrubs, perennials and roses, spray with a pesticide

Try these three plants that will give you great late spring colour

Exochorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’:

A simply stunning shrub with light green rounded leaves, a mass of pure white flowers starting from the end of April into mid-May.  Likes full sun or part shade – some books say acidic but will be ok in neutral, well drained soil. Will reach about 4ft in height.

Scabious ‘Blue Mist / Pink Butterfly’

Fast becoming one of my favourite plants for value for money, this exciting plant has a dome forming habit with rounded, dome shaped flowers that appear from the beginning of February to late September of powder blue or light pink flowers. Attracts masses of bees and butterflies and grows about 1ft x 1ft, needs a sunny moist but free draining position.

Sorbaria ‘Sem’

A great shrub that should be better known, attractive pale yellow foliage with narrow pointed leaves and vivid bright orange red new growth. Height 4 to 5ft needs a sunny well-drained position. Makes a good container plant.

Swarkestone-Mark-Smith-Jan10

If you need any help or advice, please contact me
(remember to quote Country Images in your email)
And remember it’s FREE! Mark Smith
shrubman@ntlworld.com or 01332 700800
Or Facebook – Just search for Mark Smith and look for my smiley face

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