Clematis Freda

The Garden in May

The colours and perfumes of May

If you could choose the loveliest plants to shine in your garden in May, which would you choose?

For up in the air I would choose Japanese Acers – they are glorious in May, and June, and July…all the way through to Autumn! The tree’s graceful shape and elegant stems make them a number one choice. Their spreading habit provides shade from the sun when you need it, their leaves are delicate and colours are vibrant. What more could you ask for…


Against a sunny wall, Wisteria would reign supreme; I would enjoy it’s heady perfume as I worked (or relaxed!) in the garden.  Blooming in May and June, Wisteria’s pea-like flowers are often followed by velvety seed-pods.


Sorbaria Sem is one of the wonders of the shrubbery with its vivid display of foliage colour. Its delicate leaves and branches could easily fool you into thinking that this plant might die at the first sight of frost, but its origins are in the Ural Mountains, and it’s tough. It’s a suckering plant, and if you don’t want it popping up all over the garden watch for suckers and take a spade to them as soon as you see them – it won’t harm the pant.


At the edge of the mixed border I would choose Heuchera (Coral Bells) for it’s never-ending supply of colourful, wavy leaves throughout the summer and autumn.  During May they are a bright and cheery alternative to the many greens of perennials yet-to-flower.  Personal favourites are Marmalade and Lime Rickey – but that might change as more varieties become available.  🙂


Fences and trellis would be covered with Clematis montana.  From white to soft pink to the bright and cheery pink of Freda Clematis montana in time could cover vast swathes of fence, and will lift the spirits for two glorious months.

Clematis Freda (below) was planted last year and is thickening up nicely. Her pretty, nodding flowers are a joy to the eye.

Clematis Freda

There’s work to be done!


If lawns look as if they need some TLC, tackle the problems now, rather than later, when moss and weed have taken over and left you with an unhappy-looking mess. To get your lawn in tip-top condition for summer use an all-in-one product to feed the lawn, kill weeds and moss.


Hoe and weed borders regularly.  Hoe on a warm sunny day so that small annual weeds can be left to die on the surface of the soil. If you’re planting up a new, permanent border, consider using a weed-suppressant fabric to stop old roots re-growing and new weeds becoming established – it will cut out a lot of back-breaking work.

Flower Garden

  • Support tall perennials and tie in climbers as they continue to grow.
  • Camellia japonica bushes will almost have finished flowering, so tidy up the plant by removing any dead blooms.
  • Add visual interest to your borders with simple wigwams made of sticks or canes, or buy a ready-made support, such as an obelisk, from your garden centre.  Grow climbing plants such as sweet peas or the shorter Patio clematis. (Patio clematis are also great for pots).
  • Spray roses, if you haven’t already done so.
  • Fill spaces in the perennial borders with hardy annuals, or place a large pot of mixed annuals into the space.
  • When danger of frost has passed, sow or plant out half-hardy annuals and Dahlia tubers.
  • Plant up hanging baskets ready to go out after the last frosts.

Salad, Friuit and Vegetable Garden

To make sure that you have a regular crops throughout the summer, continue successive sowing of salads, carrots, peas, radish and beetroots.  Plant out Half-hardy annuals or sow direct into the ground.

Strawberries will be starting to flower and form tiny fruits.  Now is the time that they need regular feeding with a high potassium product such as tomato food.  Towards the end of this month lay straw or strawberry mats under the fruits to prevent them touching the soil.  Polythene sheeting is another alternative to straw.

If you want to grow tomatoes but think you don’t have the space, stop for a moment and look round.  If you have space for a grow-bag, or better still, a pot – you can grow delicious, juicy-sweet tomatoes.  Many varieties can also be grown outdoors, and are available from your local garden centre.  You might find it fun to give it a try.

Watch Dan from the Allotment Diary sow climbing french beans, cucumbers, squash and courgettes.  He makes it look effortless.  🙂

Enjoy your garden – hopefully the May weather will be kind to all of us!  🙂

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