Gardening at the end of May 2013

The weather has been beautiful over this past week, and even though I've been working a lot recently, there has still been time to get into the garden on these fine evenings and get to do even a few of the smaller tasks.

On the bigger scale of things, these months are about enjoying and 'doing' in the garden, especially when the weather is good. There is nothing better than getting out to have a close inspection of the new batch of flowers for the coming season, see if aphids are appearing on the fresh growth, and particularly for me, to see when the first rose will bloom of this season.

I'm currently hardening off some plants for baskets, beds and containers, which in turn will free up more space for some if the seed I haven't managed to sow yet. These include some half hardy annuals and some vegetables. The hardening off is going well, although somewhat labour-some as I'm taking trays of plants in and out of the glasshouse every day. A project for the to-do list is to have cold frame(s) in place for next year

Weeding of some sort happens on a daily basis, even if it's just one or two, or a larger scale all hands on deck approach, depending on time (and motivation!), and there are some areas on the outer periphery that they are really getting out of control - I'll see what I'll do about that.

The tomatoes are planted and looking very robust, as do the sweet pea I planted a couple of weeks ago. Cucumbers will go in soon, as will the courgettes and some butternut squash, along with a few mini gourds. I've held off the actual planting of these over the past weeks as the weather was not goo, and now it has improved I'll get to it (as soon as time allows!). Please let me know your tips on preparing the soil and planting cucumbers ...

I've one new bed still to open up at the back lawn area, this will assist putting shape here, and I'm toying with some ideas to give temporary height to this. Thought I might have this done at this point in the season, so again, time to move it up on the priority lost!

In the greenhouse, my training of a couple of half standard Fuchsia is working out well, and I'm training a Salvia microphylla the same way - haven't done this with Salvia before so I'm interested to see how it will work out. The rest of the Fuchsia plants are looking good too, both the ones that have survived the cold early Spring, and the newer ones I bought as plugs. There are still a couple more to get, as the budget allows. A good tip with having nice size Summer Fuchsia plants is to continually pot them on, and not to let them get pot-bound.

My bonsai'd Wisteria has come into flower, always a delight to see and has taken up residence outside my back door. I have a number of small beech plants (Fagus sylvatica) in one pot, that have just come into leave recently- and the fresh foliage is as good as any flowers. My Euryops might disagree with this, after struggling all of last year to flower, it has finally come into it's own, despite all the adverse weather we have had. And, I'm very happy to see Geum 'Mrs Bradswhaw' come into flower. This is an excellent plant for inclusion in beds and borders and will flower it's heart away for a good portion of the early Summer (if not longer).

Of course I'm continuing to feed the Spring bulbs which are in various stages of die-back, and enjoying seeing the Dahlia and Begonia plants coming along, which are their (the Spring bulbs) replacements. I have six plants of Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' coming along nicely, along with a couple of other varieties I purchased at the start of this month (so they are coming on a bit more slowly).

I think where gardening is concerned, we are continually learning, adapting our knowledge as our gardens evolve. For those of you that are struggling with plants not doing well, or mistakes made, don't be too hard on yourselves - this is a learning experience. 

I remember a saying about gardening from one of my earlier horticultural heroes, a Mr. Fred Nutty, "Gardening, the first 20 years are the hardest!"

Happy gardening!