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Gardener's Diary

May 2012


An introduction from Rosemary Martin...


Previously in The Gardener's Diary...

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012



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..



CowslipsWinter did have a sting in it's tail after all, but I hope you all managed to save your tender plants and seedlings. You still need to take care and watch the weather forecast for overnight frosts and cover the greenhouse plants with fleece accordingly. Don't plant your bedding plants out in the garden until the end of May, but do harden them off during the month, covering them with fleece or newspaper if frost is forecast..

Numbers of honeybees in managed hives have fallen by half since the 1980s and wild honeybees are nearly extinct, Read more here:   

"Individuals can play their part in saving honey bees, by planting trees in the garden like ivy, holly, hazel and willow; which are around all year round.
‘Herbs like marjoram, thyme and chives which can be grown in a window box are also good as they provide food for bees all year round, and flowers like crocuses, snowdrop, primrose and foxgloves."
  Daily Mail



Jobs for May



saladFruit and vegetable garden

The Fruit and vegetable garden section for May can be found here



House plants

Increase watering and feed the plants more frequently as the days lengthen. Move any houseplants away from south facing windows as the sun will burn them. Keep plants misted and the leaves clean. I take my houseplants outside on a warm sunny day and use the hosepipe with a fine spray to clean the leaves and freshen them up. Some houseplants can be propagated at this time of year, either by division, cuttings or seeds. Refer to your gardening book..


April and May are good months for sowing or laying new lawns. Give established lawns their first feed of the year. Use a dual purpose application of `weed and feed` or one of the new 'aftercut' applications if you only need to feed your lawn. A new lawn raised from seed or turf will need careful attention this month if it is to become established. With the current hosepipe ban in many areas ensure the lawn does not become dried out. Water it in the cool of the evening and the lawn will have the benefit of the water overnight. If you water during the day, the sun will quickly evaporate the water..

Herbaceous borders and roses

violaAphids and other pests are busy this time of year, and seem to particularly enjoy just a few of my plants. I have however taken note of this and beaten them at their own game this year, by spraying the vulnerable specimens. The flower borders will appreciate a mulching this month, which will help conserve moisture and stop weeds from growing. If you are using grass cuttings as a mulch, take care not to use the first three mowings after applying lawn weed and feed as per the manufacturer`s instructions. Don`t forget to stake tall growing plants before they topple over and break.


Increase the amount of water given to plants and still keep an eye on the weather in case of night frosts, when you will need to cover plants with horticultural fleece or newspapers.. Continue planting up hanging baskets this month and be sure to keep them frost free and watered, then by the end of May they can go outside looking really established..

Trees and shrubs

Trees and shrubs will still benefit from a good mulching this month to conserve water, stop weeds growing and add goodness to the soil. Look for any signs of disease or pests and spray accordingly. I am finding some previously unseen caterpillars and bugs in my borders - curled up tightly in leaves.

Water gardens

It`s a lovely month for enjoying a pond, and I spend hours just looking at the baby frogs basking in the sun, the fish spawning and the aquatic plants growing. If you are putting more plants in your pond, make sure you use `aquatic soil` in appropriate containers with pebbles or gravel on the top to stop the fish rummaging around and disturbing the mud. The new plant growth will soon hide the containers. If you see a fish that is being `hassled` by others, it is a female that is ready to spawn, so just leave them to get on with it. And if you find long or oval blobs of jelly on the underside of lily leaves, they are the eggs of aquatic snails which, on balance, will do more good than harm.


BluetitMay brings the very last of the summer visitors, and our gardens are alive with the noise of birds, all busy claiming their territory, attracting mates and seeing off the opposition. Busy, busy busy... The animals that hibernated during the winter are back in their burrows and holes, either rearing their young or preparing to do so. I have noticed that this year the squirrels and rabbits appear to be even tamer than normal, which is somehow very rewarding. But we are over run with foxes in our semi-rural part of he country, which isn't so good, especially with our two lively puppies in the garden..


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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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