Before we consider the good things to come, let’s first deal with the plants which have had their time on centre stage. Most of your spring bulbs will be done by now and it’s important to deadhead them, to make them neater and ensure that the plant’s energy is returned to the bulb.
If you have congested clumps of daffodils and other spring bulbs, you can lift and divide them now, enabling you to add some to different parts of your garden. Once that’s done, leave the foliage to die down naturally, again strengthening the bulb for next year. It’s also a good idea to label them, so you won’t stick a spade into them later in the year!
Prune spring flowering shrubs, whose blooms have faded, including Forsythia, Ribes and Viburnum tinus. Keep an eye out for pests as you go, particularly the annoying viburnum beetle, picking off any larvae as soon as you spot them. Similarly, look out for signs of blackspot on roses and, if you find it, treat immediately with a systemic fungicide.
Your perennials will be putting on lots of growth now, especially Chrysanthemums, Delphiniums and Geraniums, so if you haven’t already provided support for the taller varieties, you need to do so now. Tie in climbing and rambling roses too, as they start to grow more quickly, keeping the stems horizontal where possible, to help produce more flowers.
You can create your summer container displays this month. If you’re using larger containers, move them to their final position before planting up, as they will be very heavy. Use a good quality compost and add moisture-retaining crystals to help reduce the amount of watering needed. Once planted, use a balanced liquid feed every two to four weeks to promote healthy growth and keep your displays looking fabulous.
Towards the end of May, I shall certainly be tuning into the coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show which is such an inspiration for gardeners. The bright, bold blooms of tall perennials always feature quite heavily at Chelsea and for that reason I’ve chosen Lupins as my plant of the month. These gorgeous, tall spikes of vibrant colour add a little drama to your border. Foxgloves, too, come in many colours and are perfect for brightening up a shady spot.
You’ll need to be weeding regularly now and cutting your grass, too, using a half moon to neaten the edges. If you have hedges to trim, please remember to check for nesting birds before you start.