May Gardening

May Gardening

Last chance to plant out spring bulbs

Now that the hustle and bustle of summer is over it would be nice to sink into a comfy chair and relax after all your hard work but there is always things to do in the garden to prep for the coming seasons.


raking autumn leaves

By May, the great autumn clean-up should be in full swing as autumn breezes flurry fallen leaves into little damp heaps and bedraggled plants are in need of a good tidy up. If there are small spring bulbs such as snowdrop and crocus in the garden they will be much better off not covered in decaying foliage all winter because slugs and snails thrive under that cover of old vegetation.

Tidying the garden brings us to composting and good rotted down compost improves the soil by adding humus. Fallen leaves will give the compost a boost along with chopped up flower stems and unwanted skeleton heads from the perennial clean up.

Try to build your compost in 20cm layers with a sprinkle of Nature’s Way Compost Maker in between. Start with a layer of leaves; chopped stalks from the garden clean up, some light leafy hedge clippings and a layer of soil or potting mix from old containers. Vegetable peelings, tea bags and coffee grounds are good but avoid cooked food scraps that may attract vermin. Repeat these layers and when the heap reaches the required height, turn with a fork once a month until these organic materials rot into compost. Learn how to create good compost in our Composting article.



Various lilies


Lilies in the garden would be magnificent even without any scent but fortunately their attractive blooms combine with a delicious fragrance  and the effect is simply wonderful. The perfume is carried all through the garden and their strong star-shaped flowers add a touch of drama. Every species of the lily family is lovely, and every season even more beautiful lilies appear - unlike most other plant families who often produce some ugly ducklings.

Imagine tall lily blooms with their enormous nodding trumpets, and curved petals up to 30cm across, further accented with crimson speckles and gold bands rising above azaleas and rhododendrons. Simply, just stunning.

We have lily bulbs are arriving into our garden centres this month in time for planting out and bloom period come November and December. 

  • Lilies are very easy to grow so gardeners who have very little time can achieve spectacular blooms with very little effort.
  • Simply plant a few clusters of lilies in rich well drained soil in full sun or part shade, add a sprinkling of Bulb Food and you will have a spectacular display with wonderful perfume. Make sure you plant them immediately though because the fleshy lily bulbs don’t have a husky protection coat can easily dry out.


Oriental Lilies

Beautiful large blooms, all deliciously fragrant in their different ways, some with spectacular stripes and spots.  

Asiatic hybrids

Have up-facing flowers of just about every colour except blue.

Trumpet lilies

Have sweetly scented blooms on long slender stems


Regale lilies

With their strong scent are grown as our Christmas lilies.



Peonies, with their exquisite flowers, provide so much beauty because as each one opens it appears more perfect and luxurious than the one before. These aristocrats of the garden bloom with their open faces looking up at you, and the large varieties look so extravagant.

  • Well cared for peonies usually outlive their owners so choose a sunny position, dig a large hole, fill with plenty of compost, and plant with young buds or ‘eyes’ 5cm below the soil surface.  
  • Peonies hate disturbance so make sure you choose their position carefully as they can take a couple of seasons to settle.
  • Be patient because the first year they sleep, the next year they creep and then the next year they leap!




What can be nicer than a cyclamen to get you through the darkest days of winter? Cyclamen with exquisite blooms opening like a dancer bending backwards will thrive for months in a cool position with bright light and sufficient water to keep it moist - not wet.

  • A few drops of liquid fertiliser every two weeks will keep your cyclamen fresh.
  • Do not cut spent flowers and leaves with scissors but simply twist and pull away spent flower stems which will prevent decay of remaining stubs that could infect the tuber.



Hardy chrysanthemums bring a splash of colour into the rapidly fading colour of our gardens. When dahlias, blackened by frost are mush, chrysanthemums keep on giving sparkle to the garden with their yellow, mahogany, red, and rust coloured flowers.

  • All they need is a sunny position and although they are not too fussy about soil conditions chrysanthemums enjoy some Nichol’s Organic Compost dug in at planting time.


TulipsTulips in field

Tulips can be enhanced with companion plants.

  • Try yellow tulips under planted with a carpet of blue for-get-me-not or white tulips and red polyanthus even orange tulips and purple pansies. 


This is your final chance to plant spring bulbs... 

Blooming plants to plant out now for spring and early summer flowering are: 

  • Pansy
  • Viola
  • Polyanthus
  • Primula
  • Bellis daisy
  • For-get-me-not
  • Poppy
  • Antirrhinums
  • Stock
  • Sweet William
  • Wallflower.


Our Winter Evergreens

This is the time we appreciate having evergreen plants to cheer us through the coming dark winter days. Just when the coloured summer garden collapses around them these evergreen ‘friends’ have been sitting back smugly all through the summer, waiting to provide winter interest from May to October with hedges, shrubs and topiary.

Try planting Pyracantha, a colourful evergreen shrub, often trained up walls, that blooms white flowers in spring and red, orange or yellow berries in autumn that last all winter. Birds especially love the red berries.


Final note:

  • Roses arrive in-store soon so if you intend to plant some new roses or just replace a ‘ho-hum’ rose this is the time to prepare the soil for these new arrivals. Roses like at least half a day of sunshine but absolutely detest wet feet, so the position selected should be well drained and sunny. Dig some Rose & Shrub Mix and Sheep Pellets into the soil and leave to settle for a couple of weeks before planting your new roses.
  • Plant garlic and shallots into well drained soil that receives all day sunshine.
  • This is a good time to plant strawberries while there is still autumn warmth in the soil. Good drainage is essential so if your soil is damp and heavy mound up the strawberry rows, sprinkle with Strawberry Food, then plant the strawberries along the top.

Happy gardening everyone

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