//Philippa’s Newsletter – May 2017

Philippa’s Newsletter – May 2017

My Garden by Philippa Thomas

With our Bank Holiday in early May, it is the perfect time to be busy in the garden, sowing seeds, planting out, buying plants and vegetable seedlings, dead heading spring bulbs and dividing some of these bulbs… Are we not now, doing the ground work for our summer and early Autumn months.  ….Remember, we can still have frosts up to late May and the date of the last expected frosts, varies around our country.

Did you hear that Sutton seeds have introduced a new range of Clematis that can be used as cut flowers. There are three varieties of this Clematis ‘amazing’ range…  They have been specially bred to have long flower stems and good vase life.  They are ‘cut and come again’ varieties.  – How wonderful.

You know, the great majority of things that help with successful growing are just plain Common Sense, – remembering too, Right Plant, Right Place. Imagine, where your newly bought plant would grow best, if it had legs, where do you think it would put itself?  …Every plant has evolved to thrive in a particular habitat, so imitating ‘This’ is best.  Then, fresh compost is highly advantageous, always check the ‘For Sale by Date’; just like fresh food, fresh compost always performs best.  A bag usually stays unchanged for 18 months, however some outlets store bags outside with no cover and the bags get saturated in the rain and baked in the sun.  Most composts contain a ‘starter’ fertiliser which will start to break down in hot weather and can cause damage such as burning plant roots –  sealed in a bag and stacked in a heap, the compost will start to break down in anaerobic conditions and toxic compounds will build up that could damage your plants.  …So, the quality of compost that you use is fundamental to successful growing, especially for pots and then, pots are such a plus for wheelchair users, too.  …If a plant likes you, it will increase.

Give Soil the Right Soil or Use Pots…

Bulbs are so self-sufficient. They come from all sorts of habitats and basically need the same sort of conditions that their ancestors would encounter in the wild.  Tulips preferably, love terracotta pots with loam – based compost with a little extra lime, ‘All This’ –  substitutes for poor well drained soil, on the alkaline side.  It’s nearly always better to plant too deep rather than too shallow as bulbs need the protection and the nutrients that the soil around them gives.  Of course, Nerines and their likes need to have their necks above ground.  Being brutal in the garden is one of the Toughest Things however sometimes, giving a friend or charity plant table your increasing stock can truly help to keep your beloved garden in control…

Let Your Plants Lead You… How to Prune…

Always stand back, occasionally, when pruning just as you naturally would when painting a picture to see what you have done, and to understand what to do next. When planting, dig a large hole, not only to accommodate the roots of the plant but to encourage those roots to move into the soil.  Many plants are commercially grown in compost that has little similarity to the soil in our gardens.  Loosen the roots when planting.  This will encourage the plant to make new roots.  These fine little roots allow the plant to settle in.


Both the adults and the larvae are predators of aphids. There are approx. 42 species of ladybird with different coloured wing cases and number of spots.  …Did you know that one ladybug can eat more than 50 aphids in one day and more that 5,000 in their lifetime.  …A log pile provides a safe place for insects to live and drilling holes in logs creates homes for solitary bees.


If you spray your roses, make your first spray now as the leaves unfold – , then as your roses grow, boost them with some rose food; scatter it around their base and gently hoe it in, then mulch with well – rotted manure or good garden compost. Remove all affected black spot on rose leaves as soon as you see it.  I did it, this a.m.!  Our climate provides ideal conditions for roses to develop small dark circles on leaves that turn yellow and drop off.  Spores spread in the wind and survive the winter on stems.  Perhaps, consider a Fungal Fighter Plus or the likes.

Might Do, Maybe May Jobs.

  1. I have heard that the best method for stopping cats using our seed beds as a toilet is to cover the bed with some chicken wire – , Not sure   —  ?
  2. Check for birds nests before trimming hedges.
  3. Vine-weevil becomes active in late spring. So check your containers for the C shaped creamy white grubs.  I find using plenty of horticultural grit in pots seems to lessen their invasions.
  4. If your daffodils failed to flower because of over-crowding, it’s worth digging up congested clumps and replacing them.
  5. Slugs and snails can devastate soft new growth so consider some biological control.
  6. A base under your containers is beneficial, especially if you plan to be away for a few days.  7
  7. Potted plants such as tulips, fuchsias and dahlias are useful as you can move them around the garden to fill any gaps that occur in your displays.
  8. Fuchsia, Princess Charlotte and Prince George are noted as Best Buys in ‘Which’, 2017, Garden Magazine

May Day Wishes, – To You All.


2018-01-22T18:17:00+00:00May 22nd, 2017|