Summer’s in Sight: Gardening Jobs for May – Netweather

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FlowersPlant Out Half-Hardy and Tender AnnualsOnce the risk of a late frost has passed, you can plant out half-hardy and tender annuals such as amaranthus, cleome, cosmos, nicotiana, snapdragons, sunflowers, tagetes and zinnia. Make sure to harden them off for a few days first, leaving them outside during the day and bringing them in again at night for a week to ten days before planting them out.Stake and Support Perennial PlantsIt’s a good idea to get plant supports in place before they’re needed so that you don’t end up trying to prop up plants that have started toppling over. You can use metal structures (either shop bought or homemade) but stakes and twine or twiggy prunings work just as well.Sow Biennials and Perennials for Next YearSpring-flowering biennials including forget-me-nots, foxgloves, wallflowers and winter-flowering pansies if sown now, will flower by next spring. Perennials such as achilleas, alstroemerias and hardy geraniums can be sown outdoors in a nursery bed, or in pots to be planted out in the autumn.Climbers, Shrubs and TreesCheck on newly planted shrubs and trees, making sure they stay well-watered during warm, dry spells. Feeding and mulching, if you haven’t already, will give them a boost now that the growing season is well underway.Continue to prune early-flowering shrubs once they have finished flowering. It’s also the best time to prune early-flowering clematis varieties such as c.armandii, and c. montana which form their flowers on the new growth made between now and late summer. Cut them back to the desired size and spread, water well and mulch with garden compost. Keep tying in the shoots of vigorous climbing plants as necessary (clematis, roses and vines) to stop them from getting too unruly and tangling with other plants.MowingThe grass is growing faster now and standard practice is to begin regular mowing, lowering the blades for a shorter cut as we head towards summer. However, if you’re keen to do your bit for wildlife, you might like to take part in No Mow May, a campaign run by the charity Plantlife to increase the number of wildflower nectar plants available for pollinators. Simply leave your mower in the shed for the month of May and watch the wildflowers pop up on your lawns, providing nectar for bees and butterflies. At the end of the month, on the bank holiday weekend, you can join in with Plantlife’s nationwide “Every Flower Counts” survey to discover how many bees the UK’s lawns can feed. It only takes a few minutes to do and once you’ve submitted your results, you’ll instantly receive your own Personal Nectar Score, showing how many bees your lawn can support.WildlifeBirds are busy feeding their young this month and you may see the first fledgelings hopping around on the ground as they wait for their flight feathers to fully develop. Keep bird feeders and containers of freshwater topped up, making sure that any food you leave out is suitable for chicks.There’s also a lot going on in wildlife ponds. The tadpoles of frogs and toads are busy feeding and growing and newts are laying their eggs. It’s best not to disturb ponds just now and leave aquatic life to do their spring thing. Any maintenance jobs can be carried out later in the year once froglets and toadlets have left the pond.As well as taking part in No Mow May, you can help pollinating insects by sowing and growing a range of nectar-rich plants. If you're planting up containers for summer, french marigolds, lobelia, petunias and tobacco plants will all attract pollinating insects. For hanging baskets, try flowering herbs like thyme and trailing nasturtiums. Growing some lavender in pots on a sunny patio or in the open ground will get your garden buzzing as bees flock to their attractive purple spikes in the summer.

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