Gardening, Planting, Plants, Stuart

What to plant in May

April’s been a good month for planting, but May’s where it’s at for summer planting preparation. We’ve already gone through May’s gardening jobs, but here we’re going to go into a bit more detail about what you need to get into the ground this month.

Flowers

A selection of summer flowers - zinnia, candytuft and nigella
Zinnia, Candytuft and Nigella

Almost all of these May-planting plants are available as annuals or perennials, so you can take your pick on a repeated colour theme or mix it up year after year. As there’s quite a few, we’ve split them out into warming hues through to cooler shades.

Discover our selection of summer bedding plants

Summer heat

Three summer flowers - nasturtium, snapdragon and poppiesNasturtiums, snapdragons and Californian poppies

Reds, yellows, oranges – like the rising or setting sun, these flowers will warm up any pot, planter or bed.

Zinnias are great for pollinators and are characterised with an explosion of colour, while antirrhinum (snapdragons) feature beautiful colour blends. Nasturtiums are the hottest of the lot with their bright shades, and Californian poppies have the occasional purple in there to mix it up.

Cooler days

Three summer flowers - verbeneas annual and perennial, and cosmos
Annual and Perennial Verbenas, and Cosmos

Heading towards pinks, purples and whites, these plants are a mix of evergreens, annuals and perennials.

Candytuft will stick around all year, though the pink and white flowers will only be about for the summer. Cosmos are annual and super easy to grow, bringing a daisy-like charm to your garden, while verbenas come in both perennial and annual varieties – the former leans purple and the latter runs from red through pinks and purples to white.

Summertime blues

Three summer flowers - scabiosa, nigella and cornflowers
Scabiosa, Nigella and Cornflowers

Ending on cool blues, purples and whites, these guys might suggest summer shade or a wander about the countryside.

Scabiosas can be reminiscent of thistles as they grow, bursting into lavender-like blooms through to September. Cornflowers are the origin of the well-known blue and a cottage garden favourite, and their hardy nature makes them nice and easy to grow. To finish, nigellas or ‘Love in a Mist’ are guaranteed to add character to your garden with their unique and striking flowers.

Shop our full range of flower seeds

Vegetables

peas, carrots and cabbage
Peas, colourful carrots and cabbage

There’s plenty of vegetable and herbs to get stuck into in May, handily grouped to make them easier to remember. It also means there’s a lot of similar pests to watch out for as they grow, so you may want to invest in a cover or netting for your precious plants.

Brassicas

brussels, cauliflower and broccoli
Broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts

May’s prime time to plant some bold-as brassicas, healthy cruciferous vegetables to fill up your plate later in the summer. All of the following brassicas are planted 40cm apart or further, and are harvestable when you like the look of them.

Did you know these were all originally the same plant (wild cabbage), cultivated over hundreds of years to have wildly different characteristics? For broccoli and cauliflower they focused on the flower buds at the top, brussel sprouts were little bumpy bits halfway up the stem (leaf buds), and cabbages are an extreme version of those.

That’s why they taste similar, and have similar growing conditions. And also why some people don’t like the taste of any of them. Fun!

Browse all brassicas

Root vegetables

beetroot, carrot, turnip
Beetroot, carrots and turnips

It’s a mixture of strong colours and whites in May root vegetables, leaning towards the sweeter side of things. Think ‘roastable’ and ‘salads’.

Beetroots are a great source of fiber and finger-staining colour, preferring a bit of shade as they grow before harvesting June to December. Carrots are either good for your eyes or part of an urban myth relating to radar, but either way you plant them in full sun and harvest all the way up to October.

For parsnips, keep them in the sun but earth up the crown if it appears above the soil, and for turnips put them in the sun and harvest after a month. For swedes, do pretty much exactly the same as turnips, but don’t confuse the two or your scottish friends will never forgive you.

#NeepsAreSwedes

Rummage through all root vegetables

Herbs

dill, coriander and chives
Chives, coriander and dill

Prep your herb garden in May to pack your summer with flavour. To remember which ones to plant, here’s a rhyme:

It’s time for chives to thrive,
Get ready for a coriander wonder.
Prepare a parsley party

Dill‘s here too

Dill likes to grow further apart that other herbs (30cm or so), while the others can go in a pot in sun or partial shade. Rule of thumb for harvesting is pretty much the same as the brassicas – when you like how they look, have at it. And just eat the leaves, not any flowers – dill can get a bit floral.

Have a look at herbs

Other

radish, chard, spring onion
Radish, rainbow chard and spring onion

It’s still spring, so spring onions are appropriately named for when to plant them – drill them 1.5cm deep and 5cm apart when they’ve sprouted a bit. Peas and beans go well in the sun, 10cm apart and sheltered from the wind, and remember to give them sticks to grow up.

Radishes are great for summer spiciness, so plant them now in a similar way to spring onions, ready to harvest after a couple of months. Rainbow chard rounds off the list, harvestable from June to December if planted now (15-30cm apart).

Shop our full range of vegetable seeds

Gardening, RHS, Stuart

Get your Vitamin G with Primrose during RHS Gardening Week

Gardening’s the best. Fresh air, sometimes dirty hands and (usually) a beautiful reward for a job well done. For this year’s RHS Gardening Week the society’s leaning into that good feeling, highlighting the links between gardening and wellbeing so everyone can feel good about getting outdoors.

If you’re keen to join in on getting some vitamin G, take a look at these key pieces of the working-outdoors puzzle that we’ve pulled together for you.

Tools out

Hand holding a trowel

Getting your hands dirty is all well and good, but starting with tools is better. Get down with a trowel, work with a fork and upgrade your spade, all to make that garden work a little easier. That way, you’ll enjoy it even more.

Physical health is tied to overall wellbeing, so breaking a sweat with a bit of physical labour is a great way to keep your heart healthy. Your hard work will make you breathe in that lovely fresh air even more deeply, so it’s a win-win-win for your mind, body and soul.

Take a look at some tools

Raise your game

Hard gardening work’s no good if you’ve nowhere to put the plants. Share your own wellbeing with your upcoming veggies and spare them from low level weeds, errant footsteps and creeping cold with a raised bed.

You can even get beds that don’t touch the ground, great for all those vegetables that dream of leaving the earth behind – and sparing yourself a bit of bending over.

Better veg means better health, reducing your risk of heart disease, and it also means less buying from the shops so less food waste. Plants love them, we love them, and we think you will too.

Head to Beds

Screen with joy

Willow hurdles behind plants

If your current garden-containing efforts are an of-fence to your eyes, feel better about your space with some fancy fency hurdles. Made from natural willow, these are an attractive and durable element to add to your garden to hide your compost bins or create a calming corner.

Willow used to be good for headaches, and while we can’t (and won’t) claim that these hurdles somehow still contain that power we can say that a good-looking garden space can help with stress.

Shop Hurdles

Gardening, How To, Stuart

Get Your Garden Summer Ready

Late snows be damned – summer’s on its way. Temperatures have hit blistering highs of 14 or so and that means we need to wipe away the signs of winter.

Hopefully you’ve already done all of your April gardening jobs (if not, get cracking!) to get your garden in full spring swing, so now it’s time to look forward.

Most United Kingdom-ers can already meet up outdoors, so you want to be sure that by the time June/July rolls around you’re ready to show off your sparkling lawn/colourful flowerbeds/new furniture (delete as appropriate).

Sparkling lawns

Closeup of a lawn

It sparkles if you squint

The snow won’t have harmed your grass seeds too much as they like a bit of winter dormancy, so get stuck into raking and mowing to make your grass work for you. It’ll be a weekly job come summer if you want the greenest and greatest grass in the neighbourhood.

Rake out that moss, kill those weeds, and see your hard work reap dividends as the weeks go by. It’s getting a bit late for more grass seeding by hand (act before the end of May!), but you can still get the lawn feed on there.

Colourful flowerbeds and baskets

$ summer bedding plants, a basket, then 4 more summer plants

Chances are your flowerbeds are full of sticks, where some of your bushes have chosen to bud a little lower than last year (we’re looking at you, lavender). Prune your spring flowering shrubs, and get some evergreen shrubs to keep that garden verdant for as long as possible. You can also start acclimatizing your summer bedding plants in a cold frame if you’ve got one.

If your spring plants are starting to shrivel, get ready to get them out to make space for your summer wonders.

It’s also prime time to get some hanging baskets up, to invite guests in with some high-up flowers.

(Re)New furniture

An outdoor corner sofa set by Primrose Living

Doesn’t get much newer

This one’s a biggie. Over winter, your existing furniture (if uncovered/untreated) will have warped and faded a little bit. It’ll still work, but you might want something gleaming to mark this upcoming summer that’s full of expectations. Fingers crossed we can start using ‘post-pandemic’ as a descriptor!

If you’ve already got some wood furniture don’t want to buy something new, no worries – get yourself an oil or stain and get brushing. For metal furniture, you can apply a fresh lick of paint to breathe new life into any weathered seats or tables.

If you want to get something new instead, we’ve got everything you need to sit back on/put your feet up on this summer. From the creme de la creme of Primrose Living to the everyday excellence of our Hadleigh and Kennet ranges

Lawn photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash  

Composting, Conservation, Planting, Stuart, Wildlife

Earth Day – 22nd April 2021

Marking the birth of the modern environmental movement, Earth Day is an excellent annual reminder of the importance of Mother Earth. We can all do our bit to help the planet, but everyone needs to join in to give Earth its best chance.

Here are a few ideas to give a go this Earth Day, from composting to planting trees and a few things in between.

From household binning to composting

Green Johanna Compost Bin

If you’ve got a garden – don’t throw your food waste into a regular waste bin. Make the most of a compost bin (if you have one) and start making your own plant food. If not, you can either get one or make your own with pallets, old bins or buckets.

With any luck your local council authority will provide food/garden waste bins to use if composting isn’t an option, but if they don’t you can contact your local councillors to convince them to move with the times.

Check here to read a beginner’s guide to composting.

Local clean up

OCG group cleaning up a beach

Grab a bin bag, throw on some marigolds and get out there, grabbing any plastic, crisp packets and discarded rubbish you can see. Fill a bag, fill two bags – whatever you can clean up out of nature will save some wildlife down the road.

Most plastics, metal and glass won’t break down in the wild, proving a threat to all sorts creatures (including humans) for hundreds of years unless cleaned up and processed.

Switch to the Ecosia search engine

Ecosia Logo

This one’s the easiest of them all, and one simple change can start planting loads of trees. If the average person searches 3-4 times a day, within 10 days they can have helped plant a tree through Ecosia.

It’s just as good as Google at your everyday searches, so add it to your chrome or change your bookmarks to get Ecosia-ing and start planting trees every day.

There’s even a nifty little counter that shows how many trees you’ve helped plant:

Ecosia Tree Counter

It might not seem like a lot, but that’s 9 trees that wouldn’t have been planted if this writer had stuck with Google or any other search engine.

Take care of garden visitors

Supporting the ecosystem keeps the world turning, and there are lots of steps you can take to look out for whatever wanders through your garden.

Digging a pond, putting down a hedgehog home, hanging bird feeders and installing pollinator-friendly habitats will all help  your garden visitors thrive, which in turn will help our planet stay in balance for as long as possible.

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now”

Flamingo Willow

It might be a slight paraphrase, but this Chinese proverb has never been more apt. Every little bit of greenery you can get in the ground will push back against deforestation, whether man-made or through devastating blights and pests.

Get a tree, dig a little hole, add a bit of compost, put in the tree then fill the hole back in. Water well and then you’re on your way to a brand new tree and a bit of Earth-saving.

Earth photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash
Clean-up photo by OCG Saving The Ocean on Unsplash