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Gardening Hints

May fourth week in your garden:

LOOK FOR INSPIRATION: Now is an opportune time to assess the garden. Look around and make notes of what is flowering, how high and wide it is, and weather you like it.

Take inspiration from other gardens. All over the country plant centers and nurseries will be at their busiest. As tempting as it is to buy on impulse, try to be strict with yourself. Do some research first, and buy only those plants for which you have room and suitable growing conditions.

Bear in mind that some plants will have been brought on specifically to be eye-catching now. They may perform differently at home. Think about whether plants requires full sun or partial shade or chalky soil, free-draining or moisture-retentive soil or nutrient-rich or poor soil. Consider the ultimate size plant may reach and how quickly will attain it.

Most of all, take the time when your garden is at its peak to enjoy the labours of your hard work.

PLANT OUT HERBACEOUS PLANTS: Blue poppies (Meconopsis) Aim to get Meconopsis plants sown from seed in January, week 4 planted out before the end of May. Sunflowers (Helianthus) Plant out sunflowers sown in pots in April, week 3.

DEADHEAD SPRING-FLOWERING SHRUBS: May witnesses vivid displays of rhododendrons. As the flowers fade, deadhead them encourage improved flower production next year.

During May and June gardeners go round and deadhead as thoroughly as possible, snapping off each dead flowerhead at the base of its stem and taking care not to damage any young growth. As well as rhododendrons, other flowering shrubs that will profit from deadheading around this time of year include Pieris, lilacs (Syringa) and kalmias. It is of greatest benefit to do this before any seeds set. You will not harm the plant if you do not deadhead it, but doing so will improve the flower display for next season.

LAST CHANCE TO STAKE: The earlier supports are installed, the better the overall effect, but it is not yet too late to install them.

Pea sticks and numerous staking apparatus are on sale in garden centers. You can also make them yourself at the beginning of the year from hazel and birch. Choose something appropriate to eventual size of the plant.

Clean up obelisks that have been in store all winter if you have not done so already and place them in the ground ready to be planted up with tender climbers, such as morning glory (Ipomoea).

Gardening Hints
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