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Trowels out! Gardening tips for May

Erm, where's sun? No matter: Richard Rogers Designs has the lowdown on what we should be doing in the garden to make it picture-perfect for when summer (finally!) arrives.

It may have caught your attention that the weather has very ‘springy’ of late – by this, we mean erratic, cold, and liable to hail at a moment’s notice. In fact, records show that last month was the frostiest April for 60 years. So how has it affected the garden? Well, mostly, it just means that in regards to the growing season, we’re about two to three weeks behind where we were last year. Yes, it’s annoying that it’s too chilly to lie on the lawn all day but it does mean that you can catch up on those April jobs you missed. Here, Buckinghamshire-based Richard Rogers, of Richard Rogers Designs, tells us what we should all be doing.

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Prune shrubs that have finished flowering. People often make the mistake of pruning later in the year and cut off the new growth that will bear the flowers next year. Prune immediately after flowering to maintain a more compact shape.


Keep an eye on the weather forecast and plant out tender bedding plants, Dahlias and Cannas when risk of frost has passed. Keep some fleece handy in case of late frost.

Richard Rogers 3

With recent rain and longer days, everything is growing fast – including the weeds. It’s always worth keeping on top of weeds by whipping them out before they have a chance to flower and set seed. You don’t want to have to cope with their offspring too.


While weeding, watch out for any seedlings of plants you might like to keep that have self-seeded from last year such as Californian poppies. Sometimes, they appear just where you needed a plant to plug a gap.

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Remove the seedheads of spring bulbs such as daffodils so that they put their energy into the bulb for next year rather than producing seed. Leave the stalks on and don’t be tempted to cut back the leaves until they have died off. If you don’t like how they look, think about where you could replant them for next year. Bulbs work well towards the middle or back of a border so that as the leaves die back they are hidden by the new growth of perennials.


In the veg plot, start sowing French and Runner beans directly outdoors – they’re easy and satisfying things to grow and a great way to get the kids involved.


Richard Rogers Designs

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