Gardens

Our gardening expert Victoria Truman shares her advice for what to do around the garden this May

1.Do some early summer landscaping, such as adding fresh gravel or stepping stones to walking areas and some summer planting.

2. Clean all patios, furniture and outdoor umbrellas.

3. Give old furniture a new lease of life using a shade like magenta to give a pop of colour.

4. By all means plan a particular border – in terms of plant suitability, height, colour and shape – but allow yourself a bit of elasticity so you can change your mind at planting time.

5. If the weather is mild, try digging over the vegetable patch but take it slowly. Dig for no more than 15 minutes to start
with, then up it to half an hour. Take breaks, and don’t use a massive spade.

6. If lighter work appeals, turn to rose pruning. Only hybrid teas and floribundas – otherwise known as bush roses – need really hard pruning. Cut them back to about knee height. Shrub roses can be treated more leniently. But with all of them, take out dead wood first. One or two older  stems can be removed, too, but that is as much as you need to do with shrub roses. Adopt the same principle with the bush roses, but then cut all the remaining stems to knee height, trying to make the cuts above an outward-facing bud. This way you’re sure to have a rosy outlook for the coming gardening year.

7. Take a look in your shed and what do you see? The odds are you’ve still got the same old set of tools you started out with years ago – so it’s time you treated yourself to something better. Shop around: try several different brands for weight and comfort. A really good quality spade, fork, rake or hoe may set you back £20 to £55 each but do spend as much as you can, because when you try a superior specimen it is so comfortable to use; so light, well balanced, sharp, stylish and ergonomically designed that it makes everyday gardening a real pleasure.

8. Even the least green fingered can make a scattering of easy seeds spring up into summer flowers. Sow annuals next month – sweet peas, larkspur, love-in-a-mist and you can have blooms for cutting too.

9. Lilies make huge splashes of summer colour for containers and so do dahlias, flowering for weeks on end. Buying them as bulbs and tubers now will save you cash later.

10. A Florentine terracotta pot is timeless, and will do more for your garden than a dozen plastic pots, while a pergola can transform a small garden, creating an instant dining retreat, a walkway and a great reason for buying a barrow load of fragrant climbers.Go for the solid, real thing.

Container Gardening
Container gardening is an attractive alternative to gardening in the ground for many reasons. Some people are drawn to gardening for the very activity of pottering around among plants. Others, depending on whether they are growing edibles or ornamentals, aim for the practical outcome of their efforts or for the visual appeal flourishing plants provide. Whatever be your motivation for growing plants, container gardening takes you beyond time and space constraints and lets you enjoy the creative process all year long. This is a great way for novice gardeners to start getting their hands dirty without the discouragement of having to keep borders free of weeds and pests.

You might think that you don’t have enough space for a veggie garden. While people living in townhouses and apartments may not have any outdoor space to call their own, that shouldn’t be a problem at all if you turn to container gardening. Container gardens are not restricted by the availability (or non-availability) of garden space. You don’t even need a garden. It is possible to have a sizeable number of plants growing on a balcony or a window sill or in a bright spot near a window. Keep in mind, many different varieties of plants can be grown in the same container.
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