Welcome to our IDEAS & ADVICE pages
MayIn the Garden This Month
May is the month when we can almost see plants growing in front of our eyes! As gardeners, we feel the excitement as we note the daily changes of leaves unfurling here and flower buds appearing there. The brown earth is rapidly covered with the fresh new growth of perennials, while shrubs and trees will be in full leaf by the end of the month, so that the garden adopts a more crowded, intimate feel. The old country saying ‘Oak before Ash – you’ll only get a splash, but Ash before Oak – you’re in for a soak!’ has us trying to predict the summer to come as these trees come into leaf!
Shade loving perennials that began to flower last month will be joined by others in more sunny parts of the garden, including early Day Lilies, Border Cranesbills (Geranium) and Knapweeds – all favourites with bees and other insects. Late Tulips will be in full bloom now, their satin petals linking the last of the spring with the start of summer.
It’s show time for Rhododendrons and Azaleas now, their funnel shaped flowers unfurling from waxy buds that have been held in suspension seemingly for months. Pieris, also known as ‘Flame of the Forest’ light up shady woodland borders with vibrant spring leaf colours of red, pink and cream and trails of waxy white, bell shaped flowers. Many other shrubs will be in flower – Spiraea x arguta wreathed in pure white flowers and Berberis darwinii; the clusters of deep gold flowers set off perfectly by the glossy green leaves. Flowering Currants and Forsythia will be finished now, ready to make new growth through the summer for even more flowering wood next spring.
Our gardens are a busy place for birds as well. Many are feeding young, while the last of the summer visitors appear. Swifts can be seen and heard in the skies, their screeching call announcing their arrival on fine days.
Blackthorn flowers will be over, only to be replaced by clusters of white Hawthorn (May) and towards the end of the month, Elder flowers. Hedges and verges will be full of flowers and insects busy feeding on them, pollinating the plants at the same time, leading to berries and fruits in autumn - a larder for birds and small mammals. Insects appearing this month include Mayflies, Dragonflies, Common Blue Butterflies and May Bugs, the adult flying beetle of the Cockchafer grub.
Not sure what to do in the garden this month? Try our May Jobs List