Our gardening columnist Jackie Power delights in the variety of spring

News Desk (27 May, 2017)

"One of my favourite flowering trees – the Horse chestnut is in bloom; these towering specimens are at their best in May"

735Jackie Power

May is a vibrant month and moves us further towards summer; the sheer variety of plants growing is a delight.

One of my favourite flowering trees – the Horse chestnut is in bloom; these towering specimens are at their best in May displaying their newly emerged and over-size bright green leaves plus large candle-like cream flowers.

May can be fine and warm but not usually until mid-month. It started with below average temperatures and brought the first rain for many weeks. So far spring has been unusually dry; winter had low rainfall making it necessary to water plants from March. Soil conditions are already dry and compacted; any newly planted shrubs and seedlings will need to be kept well watered, if allowed to dry out they will suffer a check in growth at a crucial time.

Houseplants require more attention – water regularly, take off any dead leaves and top up pots with good quality compost. Feed through the growing season to ensure healthy growth, check for pests and diseases regularly and treat quickly if scale bugs or greenfly appear.

Most spring bulbs have finished flowering; allow the foliage to die back naturally. Although this looks untidy it ensures the bulbs to take on energy through the leaves for as long as possible and this will ensure strong growth in the following year.

May is the month when garden pests become more active; the mild winter allowed greenfly, slugs and snails to survive and they were inflicting damage early in the growing season. There are various organic methods available to control all types of pests. The dry weather has kept the slugs and snails slightly in check, but the greenfly (aphids) seem to be most troublesome infesting tender new growth on roses and shrubs. Pyrethrum Powder is a useful organic preparation to control greenfly, whitefly, thrips and caterpillars; available as a ‘puffer pack’ which makes it easy to apply. Pyrethrum powder is made from the flowers of Chrysanthemum cinerariefolium; it sounds harmless but always follow the instructions on the label. It’s a useful product – also effective against weevils, leafhoppers, capsids and flea beetles; these pests are likely to make an appearance at some point during the growing season and so it is best to be prepared. For more information about organic pest control visit www.OrganicCatalogue.com  or call 01932 878570.

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