O Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today,

Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,

O Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today,

Queen of the angels, Queen of the May. 

By Gordon the Gardener

Well, well. Did you realise gardening can be a high-risk profession – other than poison ivy, belladonna and stinging nettle, of course?

For the gardeners of Kim Jong-un in North Korea it proved to be very hazardous. Kim Jong-un punished his gardeners to six months in a prison camp because they didn’t produce flowers!

The hybrid begonia bred in 1988 to celebrate Kim Jong-il’s birthday had produced in profusion ever since. That was until this year. So to show his gardeners the error of their ways, Kim Jong-un has had them thrown into a prison camp.

Speaking for myself, that wouldn’t happen to me as I would have got them on time! Gardeners must always be vigilant, and beware dictators and also the vagaries of the weather.

It’s all too easy to get excited by sunny warm days and rush out to the garden centre and buy tender bedding plants and set them out.

If plants are bought now they should at least be given some protection of a greenhouse or a cold frame.

To be safe gardeners should hold fire until the spring bank holidays before planting out in open ground. And even then a weather eye should be kept open. There can sometimes be a threat of frost even in the month of May.

I never plant out bedding until the end of May. Nothing is gained by planting too early, and your plants won’t thank you for planting them into the cold ground.

I recall a few times when extra protection had to be given. These days it is simple and easy to throw fleece material over the plants just to make sure.

Fleece can also be used to protect your potato foliage which will now be reaching for the sky. Using fleece to keep potatoes warmer will also give you an earlier crop.

The winter flowering pansies are in full bloom now but hold off on the spring bedding plants until Spring Bank

Ready to start planting? Make sure all outdoor summer bedding flowers and some vegetables are hardened off ready to plant in their final positions in the garden. Tubs/planters/beds should be well prepared ready for planting with a light sprinkling of fertiliser. Plant flowers out when all risk of frosts has gone.

Succession sowing of vegetables and salad crops should continue particularly lettuce and cut crops ie Rocket.

May can be a dry month so crops will need watering where required. Watering in the morning will leave plants to dry out and not be as attractive to slugs and snails.

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Keep crops in the greenhouse well watered and also fed with proprietary liquid fertilisers – alternate the feed ie tomato feed with liquid seaweed to create a good balance of nutrients.

Keep the greenhouse temperature controlled as much as possible and avoid very high temperatures – ventilation is the key.

Be prepared to watch out for pests including the vine weevil which can wreak havoc on potted and bedded plants, the little white grubs eating away the roots.

Bees love the teazel

The teazel is a fine plant which often grows along roadsides. It is a great wildlife plant. Bees love its nectar and collect pollen on their little legs.

If you have a small bit of the garden, seed can be sown now by scattering it and raking into the ground. It is a biennial and any sown now will flower in July and August of 2023.

Now spring time is to be enjoyed for all its natural wonder. There are only a few short weeks before we enter summer. So, take a walk in the countryside early in the morning.

The dawn chorus is such a precious gift to all of us. A walk in the woods to see the bluebells is a wondrous site.

A fine and subtle spirit dwells

In every little flower,

Each one its own sweet feeling breaths,

With more or less of power.

There is a silent eloquence in every wild bluebell

That fills my softened heart with bliss

That words could never tell.

Anne Bronte 1838