Alison Jones - Down On Garsons Farm

May Gardening

May is a month of promise in the garden. It’s been a warm start to spring, and the garden has been bursting into life, so spend some time nurturing your plants and keeping on top of weeds.

If your garden tools have seen better days, invest in strong, good quality replacements to make light work of gardening. Stainless steel tools can last a lifetime and are easier to clean. When choosing tools pick them up and try them out for comfort and weight.

Get in the mood for summer by planting up hanging baskets and containers. Garsons has a fantastic range of plants suitable for containers along with everything you need. Hanging baskets and containers are ideal where space is limited.

They can be used to grow soft fruit, herbs and vegetables, as well as masses of fantastic flowers.

Be water-wise with hanging baskets and containers by using moisture-retaining swell gel, basket liners and saucer trays. I recommend using moisture control compost pots and enriched compost for baskets.

Our bedding plant of the month is the geranium, also known as the pelargonium. Regal pelargoniums are the most spectacular – they are the aristocratic large flowering beauties of the pelargonium family in an array of colour combinations. Pelargonium Merlot has rich burgundy flowers and makes a great contrast to Angel Sophie, which has pale pink bicolour flowers.

Pelargoniums will flower all summer if you give them regular feeds of high potash. Keep them as a pot plant in the house or glasshouse or in a container in a summer garden display.

Another hot favourite this month is Dianthus garden pinks. These evergreen perennials provide fantastic scent, often from June till September. There’s a wide choice of colours, sizes and varieties.

Dianthus are easy to grow provided they are in a sunny position and given good drainage. I always add a generous couple of handfuls of alpine or potting grit. If you’re growing them as cut flowers for the home, taller stemmed varieties are best. The star series are a dwarf form that makes a great show on the rockery. ‘Arctic Star’ looks great with its icicle-white sweetly scented flowers.

An ever-popular variety of dianthus is ‘Gran’s Favourite’, with its striking white flowers and purple lacing. I particularly like ‘Devon Wizard’ for its strong cerise flowers and delicious clove scent.

Our houseplant of the month is the Miltonia orchid. It likes to be kept lightly moist at all times – but must be well-drained. Water the pot with tepid water over the sink until it pours out of the drainage holes.

Give your orchid proper light. Miltonia’s leaves sunburn easily, so two to four hours of bright, indirect light a day is fine. Feed them all year long, every other watering with a balanced orchid fertiliser. Orchids don’t really go dormant.

When not full of buds and blooms, they’re building up the energy to put out more blooms for the next cycle.

Until next month, happy gardening!


Alison Jones is Plant Buyer for Garsons Farm in West End, Esher.