May gardening tips
Bulbs, flowers and containers
Protect new spring shoots from frosts and slugs.
Thin annuals to prevent them becoming spindly and leggy - a gap of 6 inches between seedlings is usually about right.
Tidy up spring flowering perennials such as pulmonaria - cut off the old foliage, lift and divide large clumps and replant with plenty of water and organic fertiliser - lift polyanthus and relocate to a nursery bed for planting out next spring.
Deadhead narcissi and tulips as they go over and sprinkle with bonemeal or liquid foliar feed. If you can bear it, allow them to die down naturally before clearing away the foliage, lifting and splitting towards the end of the month.
Cut back spreading and trailing plants such as alyssum and aubrieta to encourage fresh growth.
If you haven’t already done so, erect supports for herbaceous plants such as peonies, delphiniums and oriental poppies prone to undignified collapse. As our experts point out, it’s a bit late now but better late than never - make your own supports using hazel or birch twigs for a natural look that will fade into the border as your plants grow.
Sow hardy annuals such as nasturtium, calendula and poppies in drifts - clashing colours just don’t matter in a garden, but remember to plant taller plants behind shorter ones. Sow cornflowers and larkspurs when the soil is warmer.
Tie in sweet peas using sweet pea rings or soft twine. Removing tendrils and sideshoots will result in longer stemmed flowers.
Summer bedding is now available in the centres as young plants for you to grow - much easier than growing from seed or cuttings. Remember though, do not be beguiled by warm days - a late spring frost will wreak havoc with these plants unless protected and slowly hardened off.
Make sure pots and containers don't dry out, especially if they are near a wall and in a sheltered position.
Plant up tubs, containers and hanging baskets for a blaze of colour throughout the summer - remember to harden tender plants off properly before exposing them to the elements.