Unwins Seeds
Our customers rate us excellent…

Know your catalogue codes?

Quick Shop

May 2015 Newsletter

It’s such a busy time in the gardening world. The lilacs and wisterias are out in full bloom, and now’s the time to plant bedding and half hardy annuals in earnest. You can make you garden ponds look tip top too by adding pond plants and applying pond clear.

And away from the garden, it’s all go too. There’s the RHS Malvern Spring Festival 7-10 May set by the gorgeous Malvern Hills and then there’s the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show 19-23 May. Get to the shows to get gardening ideas and inspiration; see which designers scoop the Best in Show Awards and why not pick up a purchase or two from the many tradestands and exhibits.

Enjoy gardening!

Patrick Wiltshire


Top jobs for May


Mow more than once a week 

Grass responds really well to regular trims. Get yourself a really lush and thick lawn by mowing about two to three times a week. With each cut, the grass is encouraged to branch and produce side shoots which adds to thicker carpet of grass. Your lawn will also be grateful for a little feeding, and you can achieve a really fine look by getting rid of lawn weeds. 

You can put the lawn in good stead by treating it to a feed, high in nitrogen and trace elements that it will truly appreciate.

Even with the most fastidious care weeds can take a hold in your lawn, robbing grass roots of essential nutrients and moisture and ruining the overall visual effect. Dandelions and daisies are the best-known culprits, and create a headache for a lot of gardeners. You can grub out dandelion roots manually or apply a weedkiller, specially selected to kill the broad-leaved weeds, leaving grass unharmed.

If you notice any bare patches on the lawn, these are easily repairable. It’s usual that some areas are more prone to drying out than others or receive more wear and tear. Rest assured – these are repairable and re-seeding is a great job you can do now.


Tidy spring bulbs after they’ve flowered 

Once the daffodils have given you their lovely display in early-spring and the green leaves start to yellow you might want to do a tidy. What’s more you’re tulips have taken the baton now so you might not want the yellowing daffodil leaves marring the look of your beautiful tulips. 

You can remove most of the yellowing leaves with garden scissors at the base of the stem; leave some of the withering leaves though for when they die back they feed the bulb for the following year.

You might also notice that the bulbs have formed a mini-bulb growing on the side – you can remove these offsets and they will eventually form a new plant. It’s a great and inexpensive way of increasing your stock, and what’s more the new flowers from the offsets will be identical to the original plants.


Keep lily beetle populations down

These bright scarlet beetles are garden pests and they’re already on the move. These distinctive red lily beetles have a black head and antennae and they do a lot of damage to spring fritillaries, cardiocrinum and summer lilies. Destroy the beetles by hand or control them with a systemic insecticide.  

Lily Beetles are easy to spot but very hard to squash because the moment they spot danger they tumble to the ground and hide, They are said to make a high pitched squeal. 

Lily beetle damage is easy to see even if you don’t spot the beetles. They leave a disgusting ‘calling card’ on the leaves and stems, covering their young with black slimy excretion.  The beetles and their grubs then chomp away at stems and foliage and very quickly disfigure the plants.

Larvae pupate in the soil and re-emerge as adults a few weeks later. They are active all summer and well into autumn so finding them early is crucial to controlling infestation.

Lily beetles are a relatively recent pest, until the 1980’s they remained a pest that was confined to the South East of Britain but since then they have slowly spread throughout  England and Wales reaching as far as Scotland and Northern Ireland and very recently they were reported reaching Eire.


Summer young plants 

You might have seedlings or young plants that are ready to go into the ground. Now is an excellent time to do it as the soil has warmed up giving plant roots a comfortable environment to grow in. Also when the weather’s nice it’s great to be in the garden, doing jobs that will reward you later in the season. 

Prepare the soil in the flowerbed or container before planting by adding a granule general fertiliser to the soil. If the fertiliser is in liquid form, add it to the first watering after planting.

When removing seedlings or young plants from their pot or small containers, first check that there is a strong network of healthy roots running through the soil. This should be visible from the surfaces of the rootball.

If all is in check, then water the seedlings / young plants before planting.

Before planting, you might want to place the young plants onto the flowerbed to visual how they will look in their final position. If you do decide to do this, make sure that the bare rootballs are not exposed to fun sun or the plants will quickly dry out.

When planting into the soil, firm the rootballs in. You should be able to feel whether they’ve been firmed in sufficiently by giving them a light tug on a leaf. You should be able to feel a significant amount of resistance to the point of tearing the leaf should you pull harder.

Water the plants when in the ground and be sure to water morning and evening so the young plants get a really good start.


Sow vegetable seeds 

Now the soil has warmed up, seeds will respond well and germinate more readily. Crops to consider growing by seed outdoors include; cabbages, carrots, lettuce, peas, beans, sweetcorn, tomatoes and turnips.

When sowing vegetable seeds outdoors you can sow at stations (e.g. runner beans and sweetcorn) or in drills (shallow troughs in the soils).

If growing in drills, make sure the area of soil is well raked, with no hard clumps of soil or large stone.

You can then lay down a piece of taut string across the area of soil, to ensure you are creating a drill and sowing in a nice, straight line.

Create the drill by running the edge of a hoe across the soil. The drill should be about 5cm (2in) deep. You can then water the drill to moisten the soil onto which you sow the seeds.

Sow seeds at distances as per the seed packet instructions – this varies according to the crop. Then cover the seeds with the soil removed to make the drill.

Most importantly, label and date the row of seeds you have sown for future reference.


Grow herb plants 

Decorative in the garden and useful in the kitchen, herbs are a fantastic group of plants to grow in your garden. They attract beneficial insects too that pollinate your flowers through the summer.

You might think all herbs need full sun to survive and thrive too, but there’s actually a fair few varieties that will be happy growing in dappled shade too. So there’s a herb to try in all gardens, balconies or window sills.

Chives - The delicate onion flavour, makes this perennial a perfect addition to soups, omelettes and cheese dishes.a delicate onion flavour, great for seasoning fish and eggs, Tolerates semi-shade

Thyme- small delicate but strongly scented leaves. Suit tomato-based dishes. Full sun

Rosemary – produces attractive blue flowers and leaves that flavour lamb perfectly. Full sun

Mint- great for flower sand insects. Mint establishes well and tolerates shade.

Sage – produces a leaf with pungent aroma and tolerates shade.


Stake perennials

Perennials are a large group of plants that offer great garden performance year after year. There’s nothing quite like a flower bed full of perennials; tall ones at the back and shorter ones, equally as floriferous, towards the front.

To keep your display looking top-notch, you may need to stake some of the taller perennials such as monardas, heleniums and rudbeckias. Especially if it’s a stormy summer and winds are high. There are a range of supports you can choose from, including simple stakes and pea shoots to decorative and elaborate systems of keeping plants upright.





Plant of the month – Clematis ‘Chelsea’ 


Clematis ‘Chelsea’ is a great compact variety specially developed for containers, baskets and small spaces! They may be small in height but they do not compromise on sheer flower power. With good care, you’ll get flowers year after year.

When you get your young plants and you’re ready to plant them water them first and apply a feed that is high in potassium – to encourage the plant to produce big showy flowers.

Plant them with other clematis varieties that produce flowers that are darker in colour to achieve a dazzling display.

Flowers: May to September

Height: 90cm if supported, or grow to trail loosely around other plants

Looking good in May

Rhododendron ‘Percy Wiseman’ – an award-winning rhododendron growing to 2m (6 1/2 ft) with showy flowers turning from peach-pink to creamy white. 

Anthriscus ‘Ravenswing' - a herbaceous perennial with an elegant habit with deeply cut, dark purple, lacy foliage and flat umbels of tiny, creamy-white flowers that make a cloud above the foliage. 

Tierella ‘Pacific Crest’ -  great for containers.  Grown mainly for their attractive foliage, these showy tierellas thrive in awkward shady spots. 

Digitalis ‘Dalmation Purple’ - spikes of deep purple flowers with spotted throats make this an essential addition to any cottage garden.  


Pest watch – Viburnum beetle

Viburnum beetles are a pest that attack the leaves of ornamental viburnum plants. In spring the larvae eat the soft tissue of leaves, ignoring the more fibrous veins. Not only are the leaves shredded, the larvae leaves a bad odour, especially after it rains.

The adult beetles cause some damage later in summer as well.

To control the pest, it’s best to interrupt its life cycle – the larvae are too numerous to remove by hand but you can apply a bug killer such as Westland Resolva Bug Killer.  Be sure to apply the bug killer in early May as later on in the season it will be too late and damage to leaves will be pretty much extensive.



RHS London Rose Show 29-30 May 

A gardening show that celebrates a firm garden favourite. Roses are held in such high regard on account of their simple beauty, their fragrance, their versatility and their heritage. The show, that runs from 29-30 May is held at the RHS Horticultural Halls in central London, and visitors can marvel at the myriad roses, get expert advice from rose growers and appreciate floral art.

There’s even a programme of talks for those who want to delve a little deeper, and find out more on this gorgeous garden flower.


RHS Malvern Spring Festival 7-10 May 

Pay a visit to the RHS Malvern Spring Festival 7-10 May set by the beautiful Malvern Hills. There’s eye-opening Show Gardens, floral exhibits from award-winning nurseries, and talks from gardening gurus like Joe Swift and Carol Klein, and celebrity cooks like Raymond Blanc and Gregg Wallace. With floral artwork, local fare and top shopping opportunities, there’s so much to do at this wonderful Worcestershire show.


Veg Trug Poppy Ladders 

Have you seen our new Veg Trug Poppy Ladder range of planters that you can grow a range of beautiful bedding, fruit, vegetables and herbs in? These ‘double decker’ planters come in a range of bright and cheery colours, are light and easy to position and look great on a patio or balcony. Perfect for all garden sizes. 


Sign Up for our FREE newsletter - Full of great tips and offers