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May 2016 Newsletter

May is an exciting month for gardening. The herbaceous perennials are either coming into leaf- producing those fresh, healthy new green shoots that herald the spring in earnest. Some perennials will already be coming into bloom and late spring-flowering bulbs like tulips and camassias will be putting on gorgeous and exuberant displays.

May is predicted to be cool this year, so be prepared to get out horticultural fleece for frosty nights that could catch young plants and seedlings out. Blossoms from trees such as ornamental applesmay succumb to frost too so large sheets of fleece are useful to cover canopies of containerised trees.

Despite the cold, clear days and long day-light hours mean you can spend a lot of time outdoors bedding young plants, feeding and maintaining the lawn, planting containers and growing wildflowers.

So make the most of the long days at this time of year.

Happy Gardening

James Oakey, Head of Horticulture


Top Tips for May

Plant herbaceous perennials 

Produce gorgeous flower displays in your garden beds this season by introducing herbaceous perennials that come into flower year after year bigger and stronger. Easy to care for, plants in this flowering group come in all shapes and sizes and flower at various times.

Ensure you have flowers that look lovely in spring and early summer such as hardy geraniums and campanulas and others that come into their own in summer and into autumn to continue the lovely display like rudbeckia, heleniums and hollyhocks.


Care for the lawn for a superior sward

In May there are four main factors to focus on to produce a good lawn for summer. These are weeding, feeding, killing moss and mowing. It’s best if the soil is moist, the grass dry and rain is due in the following few days. When applying feeds and weedkillers water them in after a couple of days if there has been no rain.

There are many products you can choose from to address these but a combination of feeding and weeding is the most efficient and time-saving. Ensure you read the instructions on the packet and stick to the correct quantities. Over-application of feed can scorch the grass and under application will prove futile.

If applying moss killer rake up the blackened moss after a week or two of application and your grass will start to thicken up.


Provide plants with a ‘Chelsea chop’

Some of your late-flowering perennials will produce a more generous display of flowers if they are cut back around late May. The plants will produce more side-shoots that branch out for more flowering stems, and a more compact growth habit.

Plants that respond well to this treatment include; sedums, heleniums, phlox, rudbeckias and echinaceas.

Simply cut growth back by a third to a half from around the 20May. This may seem extreme and counter-intuitive but will reward you with fuller displays in late summer.



Apply Eco-Sure Pond Clear for crystal-clear ponds

May’s an excellent month to put your garden pond in good stead. Create clear water from biological solution EcoSure Pond Clear which ensures great results even when May is colder than average as it may be this year. Regular pond treatments only work in temperatures of 10-12°C (50-54°F), but this effective treatment works in temperatures as low as 4°C (39°F)!

Containing an individual blend of specially selected strains of bacteria, EcoSure Pond Clear is simpler than other pond cleaners to use – just pop a tablet in a bucket of pond water, stir until dissolved and leave for 1-2 hours in direct sunlight or a warm location. Stir again and add to your pond evenly and around the edges ensuring good distribution to break down the sticky sludges at the bottom and side of your pond.


Keep aphid populations down the natural way 

Aphids are attracted to fresh sappy growth which is produced in abundance at this time of year. Put a stop to the aphid’s life-cycle by introducing aphids’ natural garden predators, ladybirds. The adult ladybirds will feed on aphids and their young (the nymphs) have a voracious appetite to keep aphids at bay.

Our Grow Your Own ladybird kit contains all the equipment you need to introduce ladybirds into your garden. You can further enhance ladybird populations by growing pollen-rich wildflowers in your garden.


Plant out summer bedding towards the end of the month if temperatures rise

May is an exciting time to fill containers and hanging baskets with a range of summer bedding to add colour and fragrance to your garden. Plant in beds and containers on your patio, balcony or garden and plant in baskets for head-height displays.

Be aware that this May is predicted to be cool so have protective fleece at the ready to use for frosty nights. Alternatively bring containers and baskets indoors on cold nights if possible.

Water in mornings and evenings for bedding grown in containers and start to feed with a high-potash feed as they flower for brilliant blooms.


The highlights of…. spring displays

May is a lovely time of year to see flowers that thrive in shade and have their natural origins in woodlands. Whether you delight in seeing azaleas and rhododendrons blooming or erythroniums and epimediums prosper, you can plant these in areas that don’t see a lot of sun.

Of course, bluebells need a mention at this time of year which are the epitome of British woodlands in May. You can grow them in containers too to offset autumn-planting bulbs like tulips.

We’d love to see images of plants that thrive in shade in your garden. Simply send them to us via our Facebook page or Twitter Page and we’ll give you a mention.


Plants of the month – Wildflowers 

Grow wildflowers for an easy way to get lots of colour into the garden. They complement each other beautifully and produce a rich bank of pollen and nectar that brings beneficial insects into your garden that keep pests at bay and bring life to your flower displays.

Wildflowers are elegant and airy in their appearance and look great grown in open soil or as part of a container display.

Our wildflower plug plants allow you to mix and match your favourite and create your own style of habitat. Each plant comes to you as plugs that are around 12cm (5in) from root to tip.

TOP TIP – Grow wildflowers to encourage the wildlife you want to see in your garden. Teasels will attract charms of goldfinches while corncockles are magnets for small tortoiseshell butterflies.

FASCINATING FACT – There are wildflowers in virtually all colours of the spectrum to attract all kinds of pollinating insects with different eye-sight and colour-recognition. 

PESTS AND DISEASES – If planted too densely, lack of ventilation around the plants may result in moulds. Sow seeds in quantities to the packets’ recommendation.



Unwins May catalogue 

Get hold of the Unwins May catalogue, landing on your doorstep 5-6 May. Be sure to see highlights including;

  • Phygelius collections - tropical-looking year-on-year perennials for a feeling of exotica in your own garden
  • Heuger-bred hellebores- raised from tissue-culture for superior flower performance and consistent year-on-year attractive flower-patterns.
  • Whitefly biological control – easy, chemical-free and natural way to keep this pesky pest at bay
  • Alluring roses ‘Persian Mystery’, Alissar Princess of Phoenicia’, ‘Lynda Bellingham’ and ‘Sun & the Heart’ – scented and sensuous!
  • Flo-Pro watering solutions for irrigating all your garden plants

You can take a sneaky peak earlier by seeing our online version available from early May.


Visit RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 – 24-28 May 2016 

Come to the horticultural event of the year- the RHS Chelsea Flower Show plays host to the finest plants and gardens produced by internationally accredited designers and horticulturists.

Take a walk around the fantastic Great Pavilion to see the best of garden plants and walk the Main Avenue to see the stunning Show Gardens. There’s so much to inspire you as a gardener at this show so visit the RHS website to book tickets now. The RHS accepts tickets for resale, so keep checking back, even if tickets are sold out.


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