April showers have migrated to May this year. As I write this a hail infused rain storm batters my office window. Solitary petals flutter to the ground as they are whipped off the trees by the wind and battered by the rain. Rewind ten minutes and I was eating my lunch in the sunshine. Sat outside at our old wooden garden table with my bare feet on the cool, damp grass.
And then the dark clouds rolled in. Lightning flashes. Grumbles of thunder follow.
Most of May in Gloucestershire (and the whole of the UK I expect) has been like this. Soft, spring, slightly chilly sunlight, followed by intense bouts of rain. This makes any type of outdoor socialising almost impossible. But has meant that, after an incredibly dry April, my garden has suddenly sprung into life.
I look out onto tall bearded Iris, Geum 'Totally Tangerine' and perennial cornflower, all recently come into flower. The Alliums are standing tall and just starting to open and the last of my tulips are fading away. I have fresh growth on my lemon balm and the mint is running wild. My chives are in bud and almost blooming. My curry plant, with its silvery foliage, is looking fresh and luscious. Ajuga reptans is in flower as are the first of the Geraniums. And everywhere there is gorgeous green foliage. Round leaves and spear shapes leaves and serrated leaves. Big leaves, small leaves. Dark green, light green. Every green you can imagine.
Daisies push up through the grass and dandelions stand proud, ready to release their seed at the faintest breeze. I've decided in recent years that there is a futility in pulling up some types of weeds. Especially as the bees seems to enjoy them so much.
In the distance I see blue sky. And the rain softens. The leaves drip. Bird song starts to crowd out the rain.
The sky lightens, the sun emerges.
The garden sparrows resume their mischief.
May Gardening Tasks:
Keep weeding. But don't forget to think about what plants you are classifying as weeds. Some plants that are commonly classified as weeds are incredibly useful and often quite pretty and isn't it better to have something in that empty border than nothing at all?
Prune Spring flowering shrubs such as Forsythia, Weigela and rosemary after they have finished flowering.
Sow seeds for annual flowers to fill any gaps you have in your borders. Choose your seeds based on their potential use to you and their benefit to pollinating insects and other garden wildlife. Both borage and English marigold are easy to grow and have a number of uses.
Make sure to tie in the emerging shoots of any climbers and add extra support where necessary.
Take cuttings of woody herbs such as lavender, rosemary and thyme.
Plant Dahlia tubers, Gladioli and Crocosmia corms directly where they are to grow. Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other Spring flowering bulbs.
Keep any topiary well trimmed.
Sow extra grass seed to repair damaged patches on your lawn and mow your lawn regularly (unless you want to allow the grass to grow a little longer for that wilder, more naturalistic look).
Keep your bird feeders and bird baths full.
Create a wildlife habitat. The RSPB has some excellent advice on wildlife friendly gardening which can be found here.
And for the vegetable garden:
Sow the following seeds outdoors - beans, beetroot, sprouting broccoli, calabrese, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, spring onions, peas, radish, rocket, spinach, swiss chard, turnips, cucumber, pumpkin, squash and sweetcorn.
Protect new seedlings from birds, slugs and snails (I cover young seedlings with fleece which keeps all three at bay).
Ensure peas are properly supported as they grow and remove side shoots from young tomato plants as they emerge.
Earth up potatoes as they grow.
Plant out strong seedlings or plugs of beans, brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery, leek, lettuce and maincrop potatoes.
If you are new to growing your own vegetables and aren't quite sure what to do then take some inspiration from some of our expert growers who are very generous with their online advice like Charles Dowding, Stephanie Hafferty or Huw Richards.
And of course for help or advice on any aspect of gardening get in touch with Emma Reuvers at Wild Edge Garden Design today. I'm always happy to help.
For regular advice on gardening tasks, planting and garden design sign up to my blog posts via the link on my website below.