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Gardener's Diary

May 2011

An introduction from Rosemary Martin...

Previously in The Gardener's Diary...

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

The Gardener's Diary

RosemaryI have been gardening now as a hobby for about forty years, but have no formal training.. I don't have a favourite style of gardening, traditional is nice, but I also think the modern trends work well. 

This column adds a new dimension to my interest in all aspects of horticulture and will hopefully help others find pleasure in this healthy and therapeutic pastime ... 

Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of laterlife, remembering to tell me which country you are from.. 

Click here for previous editions of Gardener's Diary..

 cherry blossomI assumed that the dandelion explosion was due to the mild weather we've had since January, but it seems there is a different reason. An EU restriction on pesticide use and later than usual grass verge mowing by councils is allowing the flowers to go to seed, see here.   But, together with the magnificent display of flowering cherries, it made for a colourful few weeks, and if there are no severe late frosts it could be a bumper year for fruit and berries too. Isn't it lovely to be out in the garden without lots of layersof clothes on, finally?


Jobs for the month

May 2011


Fruit and vegetable gardening for May click here


Kaufmanniana tulipsGive bulbs a liquid feed or a sprinkle of Growmore for an even better display next year, and, after dead-heading them, leave daffodil leaves to die down naturally which will take about six weeks. When tulips are finished flowering you can lift them and heel them in elsewhere for the bulbs to ripen. However, I prefer Kaufmanniana tulips which don't like to be disturbed, flower earlier and colonize where they grow - I happen to think they're prettier too! See photo above of some in my garden..


Keep new lawns damp and treat existing lawns with weed and feed, not forgetting to apply it according to instructions. I usually give my lawn a going over with an electric scarifier first which rips out all the moss and rubbish. The amount of debris it removes never fails to amaze me, and the grass is now looking very respectable considering the amount of snow and ice it was covered in over winter..


Protect tender plants from late frosts, with newspaper or horticultural fleece, and start hardening off summer bedding plants by taking them out of the greenhouse and putting them in cold frames. Don`t plant them out till the end of May. Maintain the greenhouse humidity and avoid red spider mite by damping down with the hosepipe, and shade the plants from too much sun.

Paths, fences and walls

Check fence support posts and make sure that supports for climbing plants are strong enough. Why not give your fence a spring coat of paint with one of the new colours? Are the walls safe? Put weedkiller on paths taking care to read instructions regarding pets. Check if the paths are uneven or slippery with moss and remedy this to avoid accidents.


Fast growing formal hedges should have their first light clipping at the end of this month . Don`t let newly planted conifers or other hedging plants dry out, and mulch if possible. Be a good neighbour and don't let your boundary conifer hedging get too high.

 Flowers for cutting

Don't spend a fortune on supermarket flowers for your home; sow biennials and perennials for next years flower arrangements, and start training those sweet peas up their supports. Arrangements of greenery and twigs look great and only need one or two flowers added to make a great display.

Herbaceous plants

spadeStake plants and feed them weekly. I use Miracle-Gro with the dispenser that attaches to the hose pipe so everything in the garden gets fed... Keep the borders weed free and mulched and watch out for aphids on your plants. They seem to be less fussy what they land on with each year that passes. 

Ponds and water features

Clear the debris and algae from water features and change the water if necessary, taking care not to disturb any wildlife that`s made it`s home there. Check the electrical system is safe. Make preparations for new aquatic plants in the pond, taking care not to disturb any fish that may be getting ready to spawn. Remove any unwanted frog or toad spawn.


By now you should have stopped feeding the birds in your garden. They will need to forage naturally for themselves whilst food is plentiful. Let them rid your garden of the aphids and other pests..


Happy gardening till next month....

sneezing sunflower


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