The weather has been the complete opposite to last year and with the longest day approaching, we should be enjoying warm sunny days outside and not sitting wrapped up for winter as we have been last month!
There are always things to be pruned and deadheaded, but try if you can to keep on top of the weeding or it will get out of hand.
Here are a few pointers to help you through the month.
Trees & Shrubs
If you haven’t already done so, prune spring flowering shrubs. These shrubs flower on the previous year’s growth so pruning straight after flowering allows maximum time for new growth to develop and mature. Cut out dead or broken branches and up to one-third of the stems.
Prune out reverted (pure green) shoots on variegated trees and shrubs as they appear, to prevent this more vigorous growth taking over. All white or pale yellow shoots should also be removed.
Remove spent flowers from Camellias and Rhododendrons avoiding damage to brittle leaf buds that emerge just behind the blooms.
Fast growing evergreen hedges such as Privet, Shrub Honeysuckle and Cotoneaster need to be clipped up to three times a year to keep them in shape. So if they are starting to look a little untidy, they can be clipped now, but check no birds are nesting before beginning work.
Continue to keep an eye on the vigorous new growth of climbers such as Jasmine, and Clematis and tie in to their supports if necessary.
Be aware of new stems on climbing and rambling roses through the summer. Tie in fresh growth while the stems are supple and if necessary tie them to canes to start with to guide them in the right direction. These stems will provide flowers the following year.
Dead-head other repeat flowering roses regularly to encourage more flowers.
If you did not do so in spring, then now is also a good time to give your roses a feed with a good rose feed.
Remove spent flower bracts from evergreen Euphorbias by pruning flowered stems to ground level or to a strong new low shoot, wearing gloves to protect from the skin irritating milky sap.
Deadhead early perennials to encourage more flowers and to stimulate re-blooming.
Cut back and deadhead Oriental poppies after flowering. Cutting them right back to ground level will stimulate growth of fresh new foliage, and perhaps even some new blooms. Mulching and feeding will help to support this new growth.
Remember to keep newly planted trees and shrubs watered.
Well over 90% of plants that fail in the year after they were planted do so for lack of water.
A lot of water at wide intervals is much better for plants in the ground than little and often. The larger the plant, the longer it will take to establish and so the longer you will need to water it.
Containers dry out much faster so it is important to water them more often and they will need feeding every couple of weeks through the growing season.
Lawns will need mowing weekly now. During dry spells keep the blades on your mower higher to avoid damaging the grass. When adding clippings to your compost heap be aware to mix them in with other vegetable matter or the heap can become slimy and smelly.
Cut back the dead foliage of spring bulbs in your borders and start mowing where they grow in grass. If you can replant them straight away lift and divide any clumps that are getting overcrowded or mark them with a cane for lifting and dividing this autumn.
Continue to inspect lilies for the scarlet lily beetle whose larvae can strip plants in days. Pick off by hand. Vine weevil larvae can be a serious pest of containerised plants, and continue to become active this month. There are various chemical and biological controls available. Aphids multiply rapidly in summer. Remove early infestations by hand to prevent the problem getting out of control. Aphids can transmit viruses, as can other sap-sucking insects. Continue to protect delphiniums, hostas and other susceptible plants from slugs and snails. Try beer traps!
At the beginning of June it should be safe from frosts to plant out summer bedding and seed-raised plants. Make sure they are well watered in and keep moist during dry weather. Plant out Cannas and dahlias now the danger of frost has passed.
Continue to put stakes or supports around perennial plants before they get much taller and to prevent wind damage to flower spikes.
Keep on top of weed growth in beds and borders. Hoe regularly in dry weather to control weed seedlings. Hand pull annual weeds and use a trowel to dig out perennial weeds.
Remember to weed underneath your hedges too! Especially newly planted ones as weeds compete for moisture and can kill your plants as a result.
Tackle bindweed when it appears in a border. Try encouraging it to wrap around a cane and then zap it with Roundup if you don’t mind using chemicals. If it is very close to another plant, carefully unwrap it from what ever it has attached to, cut off the base of a plastic bottle and place over the bind weed and spray it through the top to ensure you don’t get it on neighbouring plants.
Fruit trees in pots will need a high potash feed now to encourage good crops.
Clean and refresh bird baths regularly in dry weather.
Sally Watts is a Professional Garden Designer who has been featured in national magazines for her fabulous work on plots throughout the country. For more tips and inspiration go to her website: sallywattsgardendesign.co.uk