Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Gardener's Diary 

                                 May 2010

mallard on nestTake care that you don't disturb any nesting birds when you are pruning in the garden.. Continue to put out food for the birds, but not bread or other food as it will attract rats to your neighbourhood! 

The RSPB say hygiene is most important for the bird feeders

This can be a distressing time of year when some fledgling birds get separated from their parents. Whilst it is natural to try and save them, they very rarely survive because we can't feed them the constant supply of bugs that their parents do..

Another problem this time of year is when birds fly into windows and kill themselves, because they just don't see the glass.. I now paint marks on the greenhouse windows with a solution of coolglass that seems to work, as last year we had no deaths.







An introduction from Rosemary Martin...

I have been gardening now as a hobby for about thirty 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..

Jobs for the month - May

The Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden section has now grown so big I have made a separate page for it, here...

House plants

You can still take cuttings from many of your houseplants during May, but first look up in your gardening book to see if it is the correct time of year for cuttings of your particular specimens.

Be vigilant this month for house plant pests such as mealy bug and red spider mite... I bought a house plant a couple of years ago that unbeknown to me was harbouring mealy bug.. This rapidly spread to other plants and I had a devil of a job to eliminate them..

Bedding Plants and hardy annuals

The hardy annuals you have sown directly onto the soil should be up this month, but you need to watch that weeds don't take hold and smother the flower seedlings.. Thin the seedlings out if you think they look too crowded.. Bedding plants should be growing strongly and pricked out into their growing trays. Keep them well watered and covered with fleece at night if frost is expected.. Plant up your hanging baskets early this month, mixing water retaining gel and plant food in with the compost, and keep them in the greenhouse initially to grow on.

By the second week in May all the bedding plants and hanging baskets should be put outside in the garden to harden off, but again do take care that a sudden night frost doesn't kill them all off.. Bring them back into the greenhouse at night if need be..


Having removed all the debris out of your lawn either with a rake or an electric scarifier, you now need to give it a 'weed and feed' to eliminate the rest of the moss, kill the weeds and green up the lawn.. This task is made easier with spreaders available for larger lawns and packets with a built-in sprinkler for smaller lawns.. Take care not to miss bits because a light and dark green striped lawn looks decidedly odd!


violasPrune out any frost damage from affected evergreen shrubs and trim if necessary: cut back tender shrubs and hardy Fuchsia after danger of frosts has past. Prune spring-flowering shrubs after flowering.

Clip evergreen hedges and, if not too woody, shredded clippings can be added to the compost heap. (Not holly hedges though, because the pointed tips of the leaves take years to die down and you will be forever pricking your fingers when gardening) Prune overcrowded stems of Clematis montana once flowering has finished. Ensure newly planted trees and shrubs do not dry out. Take softwood cuttings of deciduous shrubs this month and finally check roses for signs of pests and damage.


At this time of year all your greenhouse plants can very quickly be lost due to overheating or sudden frosts in an unheated greenhouse.
Move conservatory plants outdoors during warm days but bring back inside if cold nights are expected.
Inspect plants for red spider mite and whitefly and control with appropriate treatments. Apply coolglass to the outside of the glass to prevent temperatures from soaring. Use the hosepipe (or watering can if there is a hosepipe ban in force) to thoroughly dampen down your greenhouse to improve humidity..

Garden Ponds

It is still not too late to have a pond `spring clean` or to make it safe for any visiting children that either you or your neighbour might have, see here.. Keep your pond free of blanket weed by lifting it out with a stick or a rake, but take care not to puncture the pond lining if it is butyl, and of course mind the livestock... Increase the quantity of food you give your pond fish this month.. The general guide to quantity is that any food left floating on the surface after about ten minutes is surplus, so you can easily gauge how much they need..

Squirrel feedingWildlife

This squirrel is quite welcome in our garden and does no damage, apart from finding new ways to trash the feeders; I have replaced them all with stainless steel ones now much to his annoyance!



* There are plenty of measures you can take to keep your plants and lawn healthy in the unlikely event of a dry summer surprised and a hosepipe ban in your area.. See below:

  • Use the highest setting on your lawnmower so the grass remains a little longer. 
  • Don't use the grass box to collect the grass - let it fall on the lawn and it will form a mulch.
  • When planting up hanging baskets, mix water retaining gel in with the compost and use the type of hanging baskets with a water reservoir in the bottom. The plants will soon grow and cover the basket itself.
  • Connect water butts to your drainpipes and use the water from these butts to water your plants..
  • Water the smallest and weakest plants first (such as bedding plants) and water the garden in the early evening after the heat from the sun has died down.
  • Using a mulch keeps down weeds and retains valuable moisture in the soil and this is a great time of year to apply it.. 




Want to comment on this article or ask other laterlife visitors a question?

Then click on the link below to visit the comment section of the Later Lifestyle Network, click on the 'Discussion Tab' (you can't see this until you are logged in) and Create a new topic or add your views to an existing one

Don't forget you need to login before you can make a comment.



Amazon book - Gardens of the National Trust. When the National Trust decided to take on the care of gardens, the aim was that these would be the very best of their kind in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust now has the finest collection of gardens ever assembled under one ownership..

Volunteering with the National Trust

Volunteers are active in all parts of the National Trust, from the new central office in Swindon to the summits of Snowdonia and Divis Mountain near Belfast.

View their latest opportunities, or find out more about the kind of roles and different places you can volunteer:

Still with the National Trust, some of the most visited National Trust properties are now holding regular farmers' and food markets.  Click here for details  and dates.



RHS gardens


Their four flagship gardens not only provide year-round interest and offer a wide range of courses, talks and demonstrations, they also demonstrate the best gardening practices, new techniques and exciting new plants to try in your garden.

Or go to their website for a diary of all other events at:-

Do you take advantage of the DEFRA website for information? I find it a valuable source of information, for up to date legislation, countryside matters and useful information such as plant pests and diseases, which saves me ploughing through all my gardening books, with the knowledge that their information is bang up to date...


Thompson & Morgan LogoThompson & Morgan 


Visit where full information is available on their product varieties and orders can be taken on-line.  Have a look to see what is new, and special seasonal offers


Some places to visit... 



The Eden Project


The living theatre of plants and people
The Eden Project is a gateway into the world of plants and people. A meeting place for all to discover how we depend on plants and how we can help to manage and conserve them for our mutual survival.


Kew Gardens two locations:-

Tel: 020 8332 5655 (24 hr)
Fax: 020 8332 5197

Royal Botanic Gardens

Tel: 01444 894066 (24 hr)
Fax: 01444 894069

Royal Botanic Gardens
Wakehurst Place
Nr Haywards Heath
West Sussex
RH17 6TN


The National Botanic Gardens of Scotland comprise:

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Scotland's Premier Garden

Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll
Argyll's Magnificent Mountainside Garden

Dawyck Botanic Garden, Borders
Wonderful Woodland Garden

Logan Botanic Garden, Galloway
Scotland's Most Exotic Garden

The National Botanic Garden of WalesThe National Botanic Garden of Wales

The star attraction here is the 91 metre long domed glasshouse, that houses landscapes normally found in the Mediterranean. This would be a super place to visit on a chilly day...




Some websites of interest to gardeners:-



Carry on Gardening - The easier gardening web site from ThriveGardening is an important part of many people's lives. You don't have to give up gardening because of accident or illness, the onset of disability or the problems associated with growing older. The information on their website is designed to provide you with the information to Carry on Gardening.

Carry on Gardening was initiated by the horticultural charity Thrive and is funded by the National Lottery Charities Board.  It brings together information on easy ways of gardening gathered over 23 years by Thrive and research carried out since the early 1970s by Mary Marlborough Centre, Oxford, on tools and equipment for disabled and older people. 



Useful reading:-


"The Yellow Book" contains information of all Gardens of England and Wales open for charity, and can be bought priced ?5 from National Gardens Scheme

National Trust Gardens Handbook is ?6.99 and the new edition is out in May  Telephone 01394 389 950 or see their website

back to laterlife interest

Site map and site search



Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti