May is a fabulous month in the garden. Trees and shrubs burst into leaf and flower, cottage garden plants fill borders with their exuberant growth and containers bloom with vibrant summer colours ready for longer days enjoyed outdoors.
Here, Louise Golden, senior plant buyer at Dobbies Garden Centre, gives her top tips to make the most of your garden as the summer months roll in:
With the warmer temperatures, this is a great time to plant your patio containers, hanging baskets and window boxes with summer bedding plants that are sure to put on a fabulous display of flower colour throughout the summer.
For an all-round, show-stopping display, include both upright and trailing varieties in your containers. Zonal Geraniums, Fuchsias, Marguerites and Osteospermum are all great summer performers. Combine with trailing Petunias, Verbena, Bacopa and much-loved Lobelia to cascade over the sides. Larger containers benefit from a bold central feature planting to add height and structure, such as Cordylines in their striking colour-ways, adding an exotic element to your scheme.
For best results add slow release fertiliser and water retaining granules to the compost when planting your containers and hanging baskets. Water regularly and remember to feed fortnightly with a liquid fertiliser.
Dobbies garden centres are bursting with an extensive range of colourful, British grown bedding plants just perfect for patio containers. They also offer a free container planting service in store – simply bring along your favourite container, pick your plants and they'll do the rest, leaving you with a gorgeous container ready to go straight in the garden.
Beds and Borders
Wallflowers and early spring bedding will have faded now. Remove tired plantings, adding to the compost heap, to make way for fresh summer displays.
Prune early spring flowering shrubs such as Chaenomeles, Forsythia and Ribes after flowering if required to keep them in check. If not done so already, more tender late summer flowering shrubs such as Caryopteris, Perovskia and hardy Fuchsias can also be trimmed now too if needed.
Top dress alpines with grit or gravel to show off their dainty spring flowers. Grit helps to prevent soil splashing onto their delicate blooms whilst also improving drainage.
If hedges start to look a little shaggy, May is a good month to give them a light trim, but do check for nesting birds and if necessary wait until fledglings have flown.
In May the Cottage garden is growing madly and borders filling with their exuberant growth. Put plant supports in place around taller herbaceous plants or those that carry prized heavy blooms such as paeonies. Do this early before plants get too big and your supports will soon be disguised by fresh growth. In store we have an extensive range of quality British grown herbaceous plants perfect for adding colour to existing or new borders.
Early season herbaceous plants, such as Pulmonarias or hardy Geraniums can be cut back after flowering to encourage re-growth of tidy fresh new foliage and often a second flower display.
Later this month the renowned ‘Chelsea Chop’ is also a great way to stagger height and flowering times of some late summer herbaceous plants. Sedums and Phlox, which can sometimes grow over-tall and floppy benefit from being cut back by one third. The resulting new growth is compact and bushy, bearing numerous slightly smaller flowers later in the season for a prolonged season of colour.
Plant rows of your favourite herbs, such as parsley and coriander for a plentiful supply for summer salads and alfresco BBQs. If short on space, grow in containers on your patio for quick picking just when you need them. Mint in particular is perfect for container growing, keeping its vigorous growth in check. Once all risk of frost is passed, take the opportunity to grow pots of sweet basil for Italian recipes and home-made pesto.
Most vegetable crops can be sown now. With quick growing crops such as salads and spinach, repeat sow every 10 days to ensure a consistent supply of fresh leaves. Visit your local Dobbies to choose from our wide range available in-store. Or if you prefer, they have a wide range of young vegetable plants available for quicker results.