by June Cynthia, 10th May 2022
Summer is just around the corner and our gardens are jumping for joy
The month of May is such a happy month. It’s named after Maia, the Greek goddess of fertility, not only for the procreation of mankind but of nature in general. And how much closer to nature can we get than in our gardens, whatever their size?
At this time of year you can’t beat the excitement of discovering some of your favourite plants haven’t just survived the winter but have grown in size and are thriving, throwing up lots of new shoots. So take time to examine all plants and discard any dead material. And make a note of the few that have succumbed to the winter cold for replacement.
Doing this you never know what surprises you might find. There was great excitement whilst examining my own plants this week. In amongst a large swathe of white and yellow irises I found a cleverly hidden nest of tiny duck eggs. The mother was happily having her morning swim on my pond! Maia, the goddess of fertility, has certainly been busy round these parts.
I might not have noticed this little picture of joy had I not been checking my plants. The lovely word 'serendipity' springs to mind, and how apt, meaning to come across purely by accident. So do check your plants. If you’re lucky you’ll find a little surprise too.
Aside from what’s already growing in your garden, you might want to consider planting up some pots or hanging baskets for added colour. Dot them everywhere for effect, but remember, be they baskets or pots, they really need to be kept moist and protected until all frosts have finished.
To help retain moisture, try mixing water-retaining gel or crystals into the potting compost, and feed with long-acting plant pellets to ensure longevity of bloom and health. It's better to water in the cool of early morning and likewise in the cool of evening.
If you want to try something different and make a statement with your plants and baskets, try these colour suggestions:
Prime colours: red, blue and yellow
Secondary colours: green, orange and violet
Tertiary colours: red/orange, yellow/orange, yellow/green, blue/green, blue/violet, red/violet
These colour schemes will help you achieve a really eye-catching effect, and one that’ll never offend the eye. That said, some people also like to have clashing colours. If that's your preference, that’s ok too. Flowers, whatever their colour, will always give pleasure.
Something different for the kitchen
In a similar vein, a window box or basket of herbs can be so decorative, as well as offering garnish for the kitchen. Mix variegated and flowering plants like chives or variegated mints for interest. (You might like to keep the mint in its own pot to inhibit the plant’s roots from spreading too far).
There’s something lovely about the mixture of aromas that comes from a brush against fresh herbs, so indulge yourselves and enjoy.
Herbs to try: Fennel, chives, lemon balm, pineapple mint (variegated), apple mint, rosemary, lavender, coriander, basil, parsley, dill, wild garlic. A window box or basket of herbs makes for a very acceptable gift, also.
JOBS FOR THE GARDEN THIS MONTH
Watering: We've had a very dry April this Spring so pay greater attention to watering your plants to give them a good start. Watch for late frosts though. Protect with fleece if need be.
Harvest: It's rhubarb time! Start picking those very young shoots and make yourself a delicious rhubarb crumble. A family favourite no doubt. If you have an abundance of rhubarb, then pick, lightly poach and then freeze.
Weed control: Use an eco-friendly garden ho. Slice the ho back and forth under the young weeds to bring them to the surface. Leave them on top of the bed until they have wilted, then rake them up and dispose of (but not on the compost heap). Job done! Turn this into a regular routine for a weed-free garden without the use of chemicals.
Hog check: If lighting bonfires, do check there are no hedgehogs nesting in there.
Chick cheer: Feed the birds who are busy feeding their young. Use small seeds, fat balls and peanut nibs instead of whole peanuts. (We don't want any babies choking.) Clean all bird feeders and water baths regularly to prevent the spread of disease.
Pond access: Clear an easy pathway for birds, frogs, newts etc. to enable easy access into and out of your pond.
Salad days: Plant vegetables/salad crops now, leaving a week or two between sowings to prevent a glut all at once.