What To Do In The Garden This Month!
The autumn colours of the deciduous trees and shrubs have a beauty all of their own – stop what you are doing, look around you and be amazed! Gardening in May is like putting a baby to bed. You clean it up, feed it, play awhile, kiss it goodnight and cover it warmly with a blanket. This month of May is likely to be cold, with the strong possibility of frost and biting winds. So be prepared! Tender plants need protecting – hope you have bought your frost-guard already!
With winter on our doorstep, brighten up your garden beds by planting some colourful annuals such as petunias, pansies and poppies in sunny spots, or primulas in the shade. Petunias bloom in a huge array of colours and flower for months on end. Pansies and violets are reliable and versatile and will do well in full sun to semi shade. Poppies planted now will give you flowers for the vase for many months to come. Plant them en masse for a cheerful display of colour. Poppies are a super source of nectar for our honey bees. They will flower just when bees need a winter nibble.
Primulas are easy to grow and can be planted in the shade. They flower for extended periods and look spectacular in mass plantings. Cinerarias also grow well in the shade. Sweet peas, daisies, poppies, lobelias and Namaqualand daisies are all available now and can also be easily established from seed. For long-lasting, vibrant colour, feed your flowering plants regularly with a fertilizer formulated for flowering plants. It is essential you pop in and see our wide variety of seedlings available for this time of year!
Winter fun! Have you ever seen ornamental kale? It is a neat cabbage-like annual with pretty frilly leaves that are whiter/mauve and green/grey/purple – it is interesting in both colour and form. As it spreads to the size of a cabbage you only need a few to fill a sunny spot.
Move to real veggies!
- Make deep trenches for asparagus. As the plants will remain in the ground for several years, enrich the soil with copious amounts of compost and bone meal.
- Store potatoes in a cool, dark and dry place
- Plant sugar snap peas for their crisp tender pods
- Provide some support for developing broad beans. Nip out the growing tip when they are in full flower and again as the first pods begin to swell; this will encourage fruit set and reduce aphid infestation
- Suckers can be prised off the sides of artichokes and planted out
- Plant carrots, turnips, cabbage, spinach and lettuce now
Autumn is the ideal time to divide and replant perennials, thereby ensuring flowering in summer. Perennials like Shasta daisies, penstemons, gaillardias and chrysanthemums will stop flowering. It is now time to neaten them by cutting them back. If their clumps have become too thick, you can divide and replant them too. If you prefer to wait until spring, simply add a layer of compost around their root areas, to protect them from the cold.
Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) are always available in bloom in our nurseries and they stay that way for months on end. If displayed in smart cover pots, you will have the pleasure of their floral company and elegance throughout winter. Cyclamens are one of the prettiest indoor plants for winter. They are so hardy and they actually enjoy the fresh air outside at night and don’t like to be kept in warm stuffy rooms. Their elegant flowers nestle amongst dark green leaves. They are available in red, white, pink, cerise and of course cyclamen. Always water them from the base to avoid bulb rot And again a lovely indoor plant for Mom – the love palm!
Bulbs, Seeds And Cuttings
- As soon as your dahlias have died down completely, they can be lifted, cleaned up, dusted with a fungicide powder and stored.
- Water your newly planted bulbs deeply every four days - they should never dry out completely. Those in pots will need more regular watering. You can still plant all spring-flowering bulbs.
- Sow some wild grass seed somewhere in your garden to encourage birds in winter. These seed mixes are available in seed packets from our nurseries.
- Prune back your plectranthus after flowering, and use the clippings as cutting material to grow more plants (in a protected area, as they are tender to frost).