May: the finest month of the year?
May is arguably the finest month of the year for our gardens. So full of promise and optimism, and blessed with warm sunny days and long evenings. Whilst early to mid-summer may provide more in terms of colour, May offers wonderful fresh green foliage and countless flower buds waiting to burst into display. I absolutely love it!
This month's star plants
Where to start! There are many ‘stars’ in the May garden, but I will focus my attention on just a few of my favourites. Starting with the climbers, two to look out for are Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ and Wisteria sinensis. C. ‘Nelly Moser’ flowers nice and early with wonderful large white and pink blooms, whilst the Wisteria offers graceful cascades of lilac-blue flowers. Both provide lovely height and colour, and both enhance any garden this month.
Elsewhere, Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ provides fantastic bursts of mid-height red flowers complimented by yellow centres, and Euphorbia wulfenii is a real must-have. With wonderful fine glaucous foliage and large domed clusters of small acid-green flowers it is wonderful in the middle of a mixed planting border. Some caution is required with Euphorbias because their milky sap can be a skin and eye irritant for some people, but it’s a plant I love and use often in the planting plans I create for our garden design customers. Other plants of special interest in May are Choisya ternata (pictured above), Viburnum x burkwoodii, Ajuga reptans ‘Atropurpurea’, and Laburnum.
This month's garden jobs
With longer and warmer days and generous intermittent rainfall, May provides the perfect growing conditions for many plants. This is certainly the case for grass, and so lawn maintenance is top of this month’s list of essential tasks. Hedge clipping also has to be a focus for the coming weeks if we have any fast-growing hedges such as Privet or Lonicera nitida. A good clip now will instantly make our garden feel tidier and more structured.
May is also a particularly active month for weeds- they too enjoy the warmer temperatures and frequent showers. It is really important to try to keep on top of them with regular hoeing, particularly around bedding plants and in the vegetable garden. If nothing else, we should try to avoid letting weeds go to flower and setting seed as this is the easiest way for most of our least favourite weeds to spread themselves.
Don’t forget that it is still possible (in theory at least) to catch a late frost, so providing protection for tender plants may be a prudent idea. Conversely, we might have a warm dry spell, so I like to keep the watering can handy to make sure that nothing interrupts the growth of my favourite plants at such an important time of the year.
Finally, many of our least wanted garden pests are especially active in May. Slugs and snails, for example, love to feast on fresh new growth, and will happily decimate Hostas and any developing salad crops. I try to avoid using slug pellets because of the damage some of them can cause to friendly wildlife (and pets in some instances), and so prefer to stick to ‘beer traps’ or rings of grit. I must be honest, however, and admit that I have traditionally had variable degrees of success with these ‘friendly’ methods of pest control. You can’t win them all…
Whatever the weather, enjoy all that the May garden has to offer.
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.