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

Flowers, Gardening & Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Stuart

In our last post we talked about how you can turn your indoor spaces into zones free from stress. Now that we can meet up outside, it seems fitting to share our tips on getting that same calm feeling outdoors.

A Soothing Garden Oasis

man in yoga-like pose in front of tropical waterfall

Waterfalls optional

If you’ve got any garden space, whether green or paved or big or small, you can turn it into a stress-free oasis. Make sure your furniture (if you don’t prefer sitting on the floor) isn’t wobbly so you can rest undistracted, and surround yourself with some flowery colour and scents.

Lavender (mentioned in our indoor stress awareness post) is just as good outdoors as in, with the added benefit of bringing in healthy pollinators to watch and while away the hours with.

Three roses in a row...ses

Begging to be sniffed

April’s also prime rose-growing time, and it’s easier to come up from hard times smelling of roses if you’ve been sitting amongst them. Pots, flowerbeds and arbours can all be used to fill your air with rosy scents, with the added benefit (if you’ve got enough of them) of hiding you away from the world for a spell.

An oasis is best when it’s just for you after all! If you’re interested in not being overlooked in your garden, check out our guide.

Put Your Feet Up

Person with feet up on wooden bench, branch in corner

Though maybe not higher than your head

Comfortable furniture is key if you’re after the fresh air and de-stressing power of the outdoors. Recliner chairs, footstools and comfy cushions are all great ways to increase your outdoor comfort, but you’ll also need to consider where they go.

Keep your furniture off slopes so you don’t have to worry about sliding off, and stay away from wind traps (corners of fencing and walls) unless you live for the wind in your hair. Alternatively, a picnic blanket or similar will do the job if you’ve got a squishy lawn.

Baby on a blanket

Just like this

However you like to take a load off your feet, it doesn’t take much to do it outside in the sun.

Fountains and Features

Two water fountains, one steel and one faux wood

Sort of like a babbling brook, if brooks were steel and polyresin

Just like with de-stressing indoors, water features can bring a soothing constant to your garden space. A lot of outdoor water features are self-contained so you don’t need to dig a hole for them to go in, or if breaking a sweat helps you de-stress you can dig a pond and get a water feature in the pool.

The main thing to consider for a de-stressing feature is to think about sound or the visuals. If sound works best for you, look for a feature that drops the water some distance to get a splashing sound. If it’s the visual, you may want a feature with lights or a calm cascade.

man stood in front of a waterfall again

Waterfalls stil optional

However you prefer to keep the stresses of the world at bay, April’s the month to take stock of all those things that get you down to see where they can be overcome. The Stress Management Society has lots of tips and advice to help wherever you may be struggling, so check them out if you’d like more information on stress – its causes, effects, and how to help deal with it all.

Oasis Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Feet Photo by Ales Maze on Unsplash
Baby Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash 

Gardening, How To, Plants, Stuart

A tree on a hill in the snow

Every schoolchild’s dream is every gardener’s nightmare – waking up to a blanket of white snow in your garden. But it doesn’t need to be the death knell for your treasured plants. Act calmly and decisively and you can stave off the worst of it – here are our top five tips for beating the snow.

Prune damaged growth
Firm plants back in the ground
Shake snow off trees
Stake split stems together
Be patient

Prune Damaged Growth

Secateurs

It’s pruning time

Snow can be unforgiving to new growth, so act quickly to stop damage from spreading. Remove unsightly, damaged parts by cutting back to a healthy side shoot or bud. It might feel wrong trimming plants that have only been out for a few weeks, but needs must when the cold fronts drive!

If you haven’t pruned your roses yet now’s a good opportunity, as they appreciate a hard pruning in spring anyway.

Firm Plants Back In The Ground

Hand pressing lawn

You probably won’t need to push grass back in

If recently planted, severe frost can sometimes heave your shrubs out of the ground exposing their precious and vulnerable roots. Simply firm them back in the soil (not necessarily barehanded like the picture), and add a small layer of compost to improve the drainage.

This’ll help the soil warm up in spring, and protects them if the frost/snow returns.

Shake Snow Off Trees

Snow on Maple

Shake, shake shake: shake your branches

Frost- or cold-damaged blossom won’t product fruit. However, for those that are still yet to bloom you should shake the snow off to keep them safe. This is good to do for all trees, blossoming or not, as snow can weigh down the branches and cause them to break.

It’s also good to wipe the snow off your greenhouse, as it can prevent your beloved plants from getting their daily dose of sunlight. The weight and changing temperature of the snow can also cause cracks to appear in the glass.

Stake Together Split Stems

Hopefully it won’t have been cold enough to split your stems, but if you’re seeing any damage just stake/tape them back together to give them their best chance to heal.

Be Patient

woman meditating in field of...lettuce?

It’s stress awareness month, so don’t let a bit of snow send you into a frenzy. Go about your garden calmly, and let your plants heal in their own time once you’ve done your pruning and staking.

For further prevention, provide cover for your flowerbeds and bring vulnerable plants indoors ahead of time. Or until May, as April clearly can’t be trusted.

Snow Tree Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash
Secateurs Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Hand Photo by MIL-TECH PHARMA LTD on Unsplash
Meditating Photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash  

Flowers, Plants, Stuart

Which Rose Is Right For My Garden?

It can be a surprise to some – there’s more than one kind of rose. There’s climbing roses, ramblers, shrubs, miniatures, grands and more, without even getting into all the different colours and flower styles. But which one is right for you and your garden? Read on for a handy guide to making your choice!

Choose your growing type

Three rose tiles - Climbing, ground cover and patio

Start broad, and think about what you’re picturing in your head when thinking of your new rose. Is it a beautiful shrub/bush, standing front and centre in a flowerbed, or is it a delicate climbing dangler bringing colour to an arbour or arch? Maybe you just want to stand it in a pot, proud and solitary.

For the first, you’ll want a shrub or bush rose, while for the second climbing or climber rose are the words to search for. If you want to go for a pot, look for patio or miniature roses. You can also get ground cover roses to keep weeds at bay or cover up unsightly parts of your garden, and for abundant flora it’s floribunda that you want.

You’ll find your colour and fragrance choices after you’ve made your decision on the growing type, as each type has a veritable colour wheel of options available and a perfumer’s selection of scents.

Sensational scents

Three fragrant roses

Colours vs smell is a tricky debate to get involved in, but generally you’ll have to choose which is more important to you before deciding what you’re looking for. Not every colour will be available in every fragrance, and some fragrances will be specific to certain colours or shapes. Do you even want to smell them, or are you in the market for a burst of colour? Either way, common rose scents include:

  • Rose (rosewater/Turkish delight specifically)
  • Lemons
  • Elderflower
  • ‘Fruity’
  • Tea leaves
  • Anise – labelled ‘myrrh’ to confuse people

As a rough principle, the fragrance tends to match the colour – lemon/elderflower are often on yellow or white roses, and fruity/rosy scents are frequently on pink and purple roses. There is some crossover, but don’t be disappointed if you can’t find the exact colour/smell combo you want.

Pick of the petals

Three different rose types, based on flower type

Not all roses are created equal, at least in the sense that they don’t all look the same.  In cartoons and media you’ll probably see a high-centred rose, where there’s a closely-formed centre surrounded by more open petals, while in rose gardens that are stuffed full of varieties you’ll see more cupped and globular blooms where there’s lots of petals in either a cup or ball shape.

Wild in gardens you might find flat blooms with just a few big petals (like the rose used for the red part of the Tudor Rose), and its polar opposite is the rosette bloom which has so many petals you can really stick your nose in. Like with fragrance, you won’t necessarily find every colour in every shape, but there’s a lot more crossover so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

When it comes to the colours, it’s very straightforward. Unlike all the other rose elements, it’s a case of say what you see – even though there’s all sorts of names like ‘Absolutely Fabulous‘ and ‘Zephirine Drouhin‘, they’ll still be called (respectively) ‘yellow‘ or ‘pink‘ in the description so you can find what you’re looking for. You might read that that certain colours have meaning, and we’re here to tell you to follow your heart. If you want a red rose, a yellow one, or an unusually purple one, just go for it – all it means is you can pick a good rose.

Extra features

Three Disease-Resistant Roses

Some roses are ‘disease-resistant‘, which means you can go a little easier on thinking about where to plant them or what was in the bed before. That’s not to say that every other rose is a precious flower that’ll wilt if you look at it wrong, but these ones just have slightly better immune systems. That way you can sit back and smell the roses without worrying about what’s going on below the soil surface.

To help you get started, take a look at our rose collection and refine by whatever characteristic takes your fancy. You’re sure to find what you need at primrose.co.uk!