Estates Manager blog: May 2024


10 May 2024

Marvellous May: Embracing blooms and the beauty of spring in your garden

As spring blooms into full swing, gardeners across the nation are gearing up for a month filled with vibrant colours, lush growth, and plenty of outdoor activity. May marks a pivotal moment in the gardening calendar, where the groundwork laid in earlier months truly starts to pay off. With unpredictable weather patterns, we’re revelling in delight with the return of sunny rays to dry out challenging muddy patches throughout the garden. From tending to delicate flowers to nurturing thriving vegetable patches, there’s an array of tasks to keep gardeners busy this month. Here’s a comprehensive guide to essential gardening tasks for May.
1. Planting and Sowing: May usually offers the perfect window for planting a diverse range of flowers, vegetables and herbs. The weather has been slightly chillier than usual for the time of year, but by mid May you can begin planting out tender bedding plants, such as geraniums, petunias, and marigolds, adding bursts of colour to borders and containers. Sow seeds directly into the soil for summer blooms like cosmos, zinnias and sunflowers. For vegetable growers, it’s time to sow seeds or plant out seedlings of tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, and beans. Ensure the soil is well-prepared and warm enough for optimal germination and growth.

Enkianthus Campanulatus

2. Weeding and Mulching: With the warmer weather, weeds can quickly become a nuisance in the garden. Regular weeding is essential to prevent them from competing with your precious plants for nutrients and moisture. Take the time to remove weeds by hand or using appropriate tools, ensuring you remove the roots to prevent regrowth. Once the area is clear, apply a layer of organic mulch such as compost or bark chips to suppress weed growth, retain moisture, and improve soil health.
3. Lawn Care: If you are not taking part in No-Mow May then this month is a prime time for lawn maintenance, as grass growth is vigorous but not yet hampered by scorching summer heat. Mow the lawn regularly, gradually lowering the cutting height as the weather warms up. Aim to mow when the grass is dry to achieve a clean cut and avoid compacting the soil. Additionally, consider aerating the lawn to alleviate soil compaction and improve drainage. Apply a spring fertiliser to encourage healthy growth and address any bare patches by over seeding and top-dressing with compost.
4. Pest Control: As the garden bursts into life, pests and diseases can become more prevalent. Keep an eye out for signs of pest damage, such as holes in leaves or nibbled stems, and take appropriate action. Encourage natural predators like ladybirds and lacewings by planting nectar-rich flowers and avoid using chemical pesticides that may harm beneficial insects. For more persistent pest problems, explore organic control methods such as companion planting, physical barriers, or homemade remedies.

Glorious Rhododendron

5. Pruning and Training: May presents an opportunity to prune various plants to promote healthy growth and shape. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming and remove any damaged or diseased growth. Train climbing plants such as roses, clematis, and honeysuckle by tying them to supports and removing any wayward shoots. Prune spring-flowering shrubs once they have finished blooming, taking care not to remove next year’s flower buds.
6. Watering: It seems hard to imagine after all the rain we have experienced this winter, but with the arrival of warmer weather, plants’ water requirements increase significantly. Keep an eye on newly planted specimens making sure they receive an adequate supply of water, particularly during dry spells, to help them establish strong root systems. Water containers and hanging baskets regularly, as they can quickly dry out in the sun and wind. Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth and consider investing in a water butt to collect rainwater for eco-friendly irrigation.
7. Harvesting: For those growing their own produce, May brings an abundance of fresh harvests from the garden. Begin harvesting early crops such as salad leaves, radishes, and spring onions, enjoying the fruits of your labour in delicious salads and side dishes. Keep an eye on fruit trees and bushes, as strawberries, raspberries, and gooseberries start to ripen. Harvest regularly to encourage further fruiting and prevent over-ripening or spoilage.
8. Planning Ahead: While May is a busy month for gardening, it’s also an opportune time to plan ahead for the coming seasons. Take stock of your garden layout and consider any changes or improvements you’d like to make. Start thinking about autumn and winter crops, and sow seeds indoors for vegetables such as leeks, kale, and winter squash. Consider succession planting to ensure a continuous harvest throughout the year and make a note of any lessons learned to inform future gardening endeavours.

It’s a bustling month in the garden, offering a plethora of tasks to keep green-fingered enthusiasts occupied. From planting and sowing to weeding and harvesting, there’s always something to be done to nurture and enhance your outdoor space. By staying on top of essential gardening tasks this May, you’ll be rewarded with a flourishing garden that’s bursting with life and colour throughout the summer months and beyond.

What’s happening at Furzey Gardens:
May is one of the most glorious months at Furzey Gardens with plants, shrubs and trees providing interest all around the gardens. As I spend my second year here I am able to appreciate fully the variety of our collection and particularly the trees and shrubs that are in their prime during these late spring months.
Some of the highlights this month include Cercis siliquastrum, the Judas Tree, whose rosy-pink, pea-shaped flowers are a standout feature along the top path. We have two beautiful specimens that are in their element right now.

Elsewhere, near the entrance to the arboretum you will find Enkianthus campanulatus. The bell-shaped, creamy white flowers hang in clusters and have red veins attracting hundreds of bees who are busy collecting pollen.
If you fancy hearing more about plants and work behind the scenes here at Furzey I will be running my monthly tours on the third Wednesday of the month, next one is 15 May. I love these early morning tours of the gardens where I get to share my knowledge of the gardens and the horticultural highlights for the month. The people we support in the plant nursery are also offering visitors the chance to take a peek behind the scenes when their monthly tours start on 20 May.

As visitors explore the gardens this month they will be able to see the work that is continuing on our practice garden for RHS Hampton Court. The people we support at Furzey Gardens are working hard to create a garden that they will take to the RHS show 2-7 July and will represent the beauty of the lake area at Furzey. We have been blown away by the generosity of our supporters who have donated to our ‘Help us to Hampton Court’ fundraising campaign and we thank everyone who is making this dream a reality. There is still some way to go, so if you are interested in finding out more you can head over to our website.

Preparations are also in progress for our ‘Fairytales at Furzey’ trail. Over the last few months, local artists have been creating some truly wonderful pieces of art, representing some well-known fairytales. The excitement is building and we can’t wait for the trail to launch later this month. The trail runs from May 25 to September 1 and promises to be even bigger and better than our Artist’s fairy door trail last year. I am looking forward to seeing all the visitors exploring the trail and enjoying the talent that is on show.

May is a busy month in the gardening calendar with plenty of jobs to take up our time, but I do hope that you will also get the chance to relax in your outdoor spaces and take in the beauty of the nature around you.

Subscribe to our newsletter

By signing up to this mailing list you are consenting to receive our marketing and fundraising emails.

Accessibility Tools