Our gar­den­ing ex­pert, Karen Mur­phy, waxes lyri­cal about the merry month of May

YOURS (UK) - - Content -

What says May in the gar­den to you? For me, it’s two plants – beau­ti­ful, bob­bing al­li­ums and lux­u­ri­ous, bearded irises. They rep­re­sent this most fruit­ful of times in the gar­den – once you see them you know pre­cisely what month it is and they bring a smile to any face. They’re also prac­ti­cally the official blooms of the Chelsea Flower Show. What I like about May is that there’s no hold­ing back. All sys­tems go and the world’s your oys­ter. By this I mean you don’t have to re­main too cau­tious about your ten­der plants now – they’ll all be happy out­side, lap­ping up the sun­shine. Their time has come to shine! You can sow and plant out al­most every­thing you want. Plus, it’s time to bring all your ex­otics, packed away for the win­ter and spring, out­doors for a sum­mer of fun and ex­po­sure to the el­e­ments – it’s good for them to do this. Also get­ting their fill of the weather for the first time should be half-hardy an­nu­als, such as cos­mos and petu­nias, gen­tly ac­cli­ma­tised and hard­ened off so they don’t feel too much en­vi­ron­men­tal stress when fully planted out. Put them out in the day and take them in at night for a week or two and they’ll trans­plant bet­ter. It’s time for the Chelsea chop, too, the ul­ti­mate midyear re­ju­ve­na­tion ex­er­cise, which will con­trol the ea­ger growth of your plants and freshen up your gar­den be­fore sum­mer. It’s also a great thing to do if you don’t want every­thing to peak all at once and to de­lay some of your bounty of blooms for a few more weeks. Se­dums, pen­ste­mons, he­le­ni­ums and achil­lea are clas­sics that fare well from this prac­tice. There are two ways it works – trim­ming back ev­ery other stem by a third to leave some growth un­de­terred and to de­lay oth­ers (this is a less dras­tic mea­sure), or to sim­ply shear a plant wholly back by a third so it can re­group and flower a bit later. De­cide what your plants may ben­e­fit the most from. Treat your­self to some new plants this month, in cel­e­bra­tion of the upcoming sum­mer – pot­ted bulbs, tree pe­onies and rhodo­den­drons give in­stant colour now and for the next few weeks, with the added prom­ise of beau­ti­ful blooms ev­ery year. Longer, warmer days, a hive of ac­tiv­ity and on the cusp of sum­mer – May’s def­i­nitely the best month of them all!

may’s the month when gar­dens burst into colour

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