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Enjoy time outdoors this spring

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Monday, 25th April 2022, 09:00

May is usually a lovely month, especially with the Bank Holidays – although don’t forget the Spring Bank holiday falls in early June this year to coincide with the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations!

It seems a perfect time in the garden to enjoy BBQs and al fresco eating of all kinds. It is nice to have a well-cared-for patio area for sitting, which is kept swept and interesting with pots of seasonal flowers. Don’t forget to repair any broken or loose slabs which can be dangerous, especially to the elderly or young children running around.

Ensure your garden looks well-tended

Even if your garden is a bit messy and weedy, the patio will lift it. If you have a lawn, keep it well cut and trim the edges – this also makes the garden look well-tended. It is the equivalent of vacuuming the carpet!

As the weather should be milder now you will find aphids starting to appear. They suck the sap from the tender young growth of plants and excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which can then cause sooty mould! Some also transmit viruses to the plants so they are a problem. You can squash them by hand if there are not too many, or some people use soapy water to squirt on them to knock them off.

If you encourage beneficial insects such as ladybirds, lacewings or hoverflies into the garden they will help control the little beasts. Plant varieties of single flowers which these insects like as opposed to double flowers, and perhaps make insect boxes to help them overwinter. You can use biological controls in greenhouses but they are not suitable to use in the garden.

Runner beans add interest to borders

One vegetable that I wouldn’t be without is runner beans. I tend to sow them in yoghurt pots and plant in their final position when they are about 10cm high. Make a wigwam of canes and keep them well-watered. The flowers on the beans are actually quite pretty so can be put into a herbaceous border for height interest, as long as you can reach them to pick the beans!

If you don’t have the time or patience to sow your own herbs, you can use the crowded plastic pots you buy in the supermarket. Carefully separate them and replant in fresh compost in small pots, two or three plants in each. Keep watered.

Trim your hedges

Give box hedges and topiaries their first trim in early May – use sharp shears, or hedge-trimmers on long runs of hedging. Keep a look out for Box blight or the signs of the Box Moth caterpillar, both of which were a real problem last year.

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