May Gardening Chores

image I love the month of May…. it is my favourite time of year… all the new growth appearing and the garden about to burst inot it’s full glory… everything has such a new fresh green glow to it… and the smells are heavenly … and birds and insects busiing about… all singing their songs of happiness…. I guess us gardeners sing our songs of happiness when bumbling about in the garden doing our chores with smiles on our faces… yes smiles… as their is nothing more therapeuttic than being connected and in touch with the soil… our earth our haven!!!!

So get going with this list and add your own to do’s….. it’s PLAYTIME!!!

here are my tips and to do’s:

● Keep young plants growing strongly by liquid feeding regularly.
● Divide overlarge waterlilies and replant in aquatic compost.
● Divide agapanthus.
● Keep tying in sweet peas and use plant rings to prevent them flopping as they grow rapidly.
● Remove suckers from shrubs and fruit trees by cutting them away below ground level. A thick mulch will discourage regrowth.
● Pinch out the growing tips of young plants to encourage bushiness.
● Pinch out lateral shoots on grapevines, two leaves beyond a good flower truss, to keep compact and limit foliage growth.
● Transplant autumn-sown annuals into their flowering positions.
● Take softwood cuttings of herbs.
● Deadhead azaleas and rhododendrons once they have finished flowering.
● Tidy up or cut back Clematis montana once it has finished flowering.
● In hot weather, shade greenhouses and cold frames to prevent plants scorching; water the paths in the greenhouse to cool the air and keep the atmosphere humid.
● Mulch your borders by the middle of the month
● Harden off young plants gradually by putting them outdoors during the day or leaving greenhouse doors and windows open.
● Clear containers for summer displays. Bulbs can be moved to a trench in the garden to allow them to die back naturally before storing.

Keep weeding weekly!!!

Insects and pests
● Discourage aphid infestation using a strong jet of water.
● Treat persistent problems with biological controls or organic insecticides.


I’m not a fruit and veg person in the garden so learn from others as I go along so I know that May is a busy month for vegetable sowing. As most vegetable seeds can be sown outdoors, stagger the sowings so you have crops over a long period.

● Remove runners from strawberry plants if they are not needed, to keep parent plants growing strongly.

● Sow climbing French beans, courgettes, cucumbers, leeks, runner beans, tomatoes,  sweetcorn and carrots (so I learned from a dear friend) direct into soil. As soon as they have started to grow into larger plants dig up and spread them out. keep watering… and happy harvesting when ready!

● Sow pumpkins and squash seeds directly into prepared beds and cover with fleece until the risk of frost has passed

● Trim alpine plants such as aubretia and alyssum after flowering to keep them compact.
● Prune standard and topiary bay.

Planting and sowing
● Once all risk of frost has passed, plant out and stake dahlias.
● As the soil warms, start to sow half-hardy annuals outdoors.
● Sow morning glories in fibre pots to avoid later root disturbance. Soak seeds before planting.
● Move citrus trees to a sunny sheltered spot outdoors for the summer.
● Harden off young plants gradually by putting them outdoors during the day or leaving greenhouse doors and windows open.
● Clear containers for summer displays. Bulbs can be moved to a trench in the garden to allow them to die back naturally before storing.

● Choose strong, healthy bedding plants to add to windowboxes, hanging baskets and containers.
● Prune lavender back hard, but never cut into old wood.

● Sow a little basil, coriander and parsley seed every fortnight to enjoy continual supplies.
● Prune shrubs that have finished flowering, including kerria, forsythia and spirea.
● Prune overgrown Clematis montana before it gets too out of control.
● Thin out hardy annuals as necessary.
● Keep pond weeds in check.
● Give large aquatic plants a feed by pushing slow-release fertiliser tablets into the soil.
● Keep an eye on roses and treat them as soon as you see a pest or disease. If you don’t it becomes real hard to get the roses pest free during the rest of the summer. Preferably you burn the dead and diseased leaves and do not throw them onto the compost heap.


Have fun and enjoy spending time in your beautiful garden. It’s your piece of heaven on earth… treat it with respect….. and it will give you lots of pleasurable moments back.

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April Gardening Chores

Today is the 1st of April… and here in the Netherlands it is  a glorious day with plenty of warm sunshine. March was the warmest month ever recorded as we had a magical spell of high temperatures of 20C  for a good week. This of course being a totally unexpected treat for us all…. We even had our first BBQ outside… heaven…. Such a summer feeling…. Unfortunately it will not keep of course… and in a way a good thing too otherwise farmers would start to grumble and crops would either need harvesting too early or get confused and not produce because of drought….

So let’s wish for plenty of sunshine during the day and enough rain during the nights to keep our plants and landscape happy….

Now is the perfect time to get out into the garden and get it completely ready so the beauty can explode and new life can thrill you once again… Spring is the period of new beginnings anyway… also a good time to make changes in your own personal life too….
So get digging and dirty and make contact with the earth… good time to get the mind still and figure out the next path you want to take in your own life…. And most important of all… HAVE FUN!!!!!

Here are my to do’s for April:

● Check for emerging
self-seeded plants and transplant or pot up before weeding and mulching
● Place saucers under container plants to conserve moisture.
● Dead-heading naturalised bulbs will keep them vigorous and healthy.
● Prick out and pot on seedlings before they become overcrowded,
● Remove side shoots and pinch out tendrils on cordon sweet peas.

● Divide sprouted dahlia tubers; pot up individual tubers with strong shoots
● Repot container plants that are pot bound, gently loosening rootballs before
moving to larger containers.
● Lift and divide overgrown waterlilies, replanting divided plants in aquatic
compost topped with washed gravel in a planting basket.
● Once the soil has warmed up, weed borders and apply a moisture-retaining
● Use fleece to protect young growth from frost.
● Stake tall-growing perennials.
● Shorten the straggly shoots on camellias after flowering.
● Rake moss from the lawn with a spring-time rake towards the end of the month.
● Divide pot-grown agapanthus. Though they do like to be crowded, this is
necessary from time to time. Remove from pot and use a spade to chop into two
or four pieces and plant in fresh compost.
Pests and diseases
● Put brassica collars around cabbages and cauliflowers to deter cabbage root fly
and erect low screens around carrots to keep carrot fly at bay.
● The first lily beetles will be appearing around now in affected areas. Pick
off the bright red beetles and squash them.
● Start slug and snail patrol.
● Apply a first dose of anti-slug nematodes (available from once soil warms up sufficiently

In the greenhouse
● Ventilate greenhouses in good weather to prevent a build-up of pests and
● Move young plants from greenhouse to cold frame.
● Feed, water and ventilate plants in greenhouses and cold frames.
● Introduce biological controls in the greenhouse.

Fruit and veg
● Sow a small row of salads every two weeks.
● Sow carrots and parsnips outdoors for autumn cropping but remember to protect
both from carrot fly.
● Sow main-crop peas, winter brassicas and beetroot.
● Pot on outdoor tomato plants and plant tomatoes in the greenhouse border.
● Use a spade to cut away the offshoots from globe artichokes and plant them in
well-manured ground.
● Prune plum trees.
● Check for emerging self-seeded plants and transplant or pot up before weeding
and mulching borders.
● Cut back sage growth by half to keep it shapely. If it has become leggy,
prune hard to within 15cm of the ground.
● Prepare runner-bean beds.
● Remove flower buds on rhubarb plants.

General tips and to do’s:

● Dig flower beds to prepare
the soil
● Mulch flower beds with a 4-5cm layer of compost to suppress weeds
● Lift and divide snowdrops
● Plant tubers and seedlings, such as dahlias and sweet peas
● Sow easy seeds now and you’ll reap rich rewards later in the year. Get going
with quick-growing flowering plants such as the endlessly gorgeous cosmos
family. Favourites are:
❀ Pure white ‘Purity’
❀ Pink and carmine centred ‘Versailles Tetra’
❀ Pure carmine ‘Dazzler’
I also recommend adding one or two sunflowers:
❀ Deep wine red Helianthus ‘Chianti’
❀ Creamy-yellow H. debilis ‘Vanilla Ice’
● Prune buddleja bushes to about 30cm to 50cm from the ground.
● Plant out early and maincrop potatoes.
● Sow veg like courgette, marrows, tomato and sweetcorn indoors.
● Plant trees, shrubs and climbers before the weather warms up.
● Deadhead daffodils as soon as the flowers fade, so they don’t waste their
energy producing seeds.
● Start trimming your box hedges and topiaries now, or wait another three to
four weeks in colder areas.
● Thin out old clumps of bamboo to allow this year’s shoots lots of space.
● Sow runner, broad and French beans, beetroots, carrots, cabbages, salad
onions, spinach, herbs and Brussels sprouts outside.
●  Sow hardy annuals, such as calendula and nasturtium, in shallow drills
or patches.
● For summer evening fragrance, sow night-scented stocks (Matthiola longipetala
and M. bicornis).
● Repot over-wintered geraniums, pelargoniums and fuchsias into fresh compost
and feed them every three weeks. Place outside when danger of frost has passed.
● Now’s your last chance to plant your summer-flowering bulbs and rhizomes.
These include hedychium, gladioli, nerines, eucomis and dahlias, lilies and
● Give shrubs and roses a feed of slow-release fertiliser (fish, blood and
● Start giving houseplants more water.
● Feed citrus plants with a high-nitrogen feed.
● Sow new lawns, repair bald patches and damaged edges.
● Give your lawn its first cut.
● Continue to deadhead spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and apply a
general feed.
● Replenish the top couple of inches of compost and mulch on container plants,
and give them a good liquid feed.
● Sow salad, broad beans and peas directly into the soil.
● Keep on top of weeds.


Happy Gardening, Love C

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March Gardening Chores

It’s the first of March already and spring is definitely in the air over here in the Netherlands. As I sit at my desk now I can hear birds chirping away and getting busy collecting food and flirting with each other again… preparing for mating and hectic times ahead.

Talking about hectic times ahead… March is just the month in which you have to really start getting out into the garden and de-winter it.

I generally stick to the rule here to not do any drastic pruning and planting until after the 11th March. The all fear of sudden frost attack has disappeared.

It’s a brilliant time of the year to get out into the garden again and take in the aroma of a new spring with new life vibrating all over the place….

So go get out there and take a stroll through your garden or even balcony and make a to do list and use the one below to and pick the chores that fit your place.

Have fun:

Here are my March Gardening tips for to do’s:

■ Continue planting new trees,
hedges, climbers and roses.

■ Place orders for summer-flowering bulbs such as dahlias, canna and eucomis.

■ Sow peas, broad beans, parsnips and carrots.

■ Continue planting lily

■ Order onion sets, shallots and seed potatoes.

■ Cut back hedges before birds start to nest.

■ Prune large-flowered clematis.

■ Start to prune roses, removing dead, damaged or diseased stems.

■ Sow sweet peas.

■ Plant winter aconites and snowdrops ‘in the green’.

■ Keep off the grass during frosty weather.

■ Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries back to ground level.

■ Prune fruit trees, removing dead, damaged or diseased branches.

■ Keep feeding the birds.

■ Divide large clumps of hostas before their leaves start to grow. Dig the
clump up, then use a spade to slice your clump into several sections,
replanting them at their original level.

■ With so much fresh, tender growth around, slugs and snails are in their
element. Deal with them now before your plants disappear before your eyes.

■ Before your garden begins to break into growth, take a last look at its
winter profile. Now is the perfect time to add plants with winter interest,
such as berries or bark, for next year.

■ Get your plant supports in before your perennials start to grow, this way
your supports will be covered before your plants are performing at full tilt.

■ Plant lilies to fill in any border gaps, or in pots.

■ Feed all your fruit trees, canes and bushes with a sprinkling of sulphate of

■ Cover rhubarb with forcing buckets or jars to encourage long, tender stalks.

■ Prune back the stems of dogwoods, willows and buddleias to produce fresh new

■ Plant new hedges.

■ Feed hedges, trees and shrubs with a general-purpose fertiliser, then mulch
around their bases.

■ Rejuvenate congested
perennial herbs by dividing the clumps and replanting

■ Dig up parsnips and leeks and heel in until used to allow beds to be

■ Prepare seed beds in fine dry weather and cover with fleece to warm up

■ Clean out water butts: a bit of charcoal in the bottom will keep the water

■ Trim and tidy evergreen grasses and cut deciduous grass back to ground level
before growth starts

■ Prick out seedlings before true leaves develop

■ Sow tomatoes, peppers and aubergines from seed in a heated propagator.

■ Dig in over-wintered green manures in preparation for planting in a couple of

■ Plant potatoes under polythene for an early crop.

■ Start successional sowing of root and leaf vegetables.

■ Prepare the bed in the greenhouse for planting out tomatoes in April.

■ Cut back hardy fuchsias, lavatera, cotinus and Buddleja davidii to between
75cm and 1m.

■ Prune winter jasmine after flowering

■ Sow cut-and-come-again salads in pots under cover to protect them from the

■ Plant out rooted strawberry runners, removing most of the flowers – a heavy
crop in the first year will weaken the plant.

■ Sprout dahlia tubers in warmth for dividing.

■ Sow hardy annual flowers.

■ Plant gladiolus corms in well-drained soil.

Happy Gardening, Love C

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