The days roll by and May, the busiest of months for gardeners (both amateur and professional) slips behind us. The month was fair, with one or two teasing frosty punctuations that bashed early beans and crumpled the tops of emerging spuds, but they are coming back. The ground still awaits news of good rain and growth remains slow where it hasn’t happened. It’s quite a test and certainly newly planted gardens will need your attention. The dryness has had a big effect on many established plants too, with the distress encouraging very early flowers, roses in particular have been blooming for several weeks.
As we turn into June, the threat of cold has gone and the gates are open for a free for all with our seasonal planting and this year every nursery and garden centre has plenty of stock. So if you do have space then fill it, play with it, mix it up. Push flowers in with the vegetables and vice versa. Vegetable plants can bring colour and architectural height to the borders and flowers in return draw pollinators to the vegetables. Mixing up the heights of parallel rows in the veg plot can also reduce the movement of pests and diseases. Following last years blight problems anything that may deflect fungal spores is worth a try. You can also be sowing seed and this is a good month to start perpetual spinach and spring cabbage. They both have a long journey to maturity but are invaluable. Do check your seed packets particularly with the spinach, with the rise of interest in leaf salad, there are many varieties of spinach available. Some are not that hardy. The good old fashioned large leafed variety, much favoured by Popeye is ‘Perpetual’ and nothing else is quite the same. If you do find yourself in the mood for seed sowing then biennials like sweet William and Brompton stocks can also be started as indeed can winter pansies.
I have already mentioned fungal spores and this season is shaping up to be perfect for them. So mildew on many plants and black spot on the roses is likely. If spraying is your thing, then preventative action can be taken now (using a general fungicide), alternatively try thinning out foliage to improve air movement through plants. The static air moves, humidity falls and the spores pass on to next door (though I wouldn’t tell them).
And finally, just maintain and enjoy. Be assured nature will still have a surprise to offer and just at that moment when everything seems calm in the garden.