CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Garden Cuttings

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 May 2014

Toby doing the Chelsea chop!

Toby doing the Chelsea chop!


Toby Buckland delivers some sound practical and seasonal advice

Anything planted at this time of year relies on you for its water until its roots have spreadAnything planted at this time of year relies on you for its water until its roots have spread

Hello! If there is a champagne moment in gardening, it’s the month of May. Plants are growing faster than a cork flying from a bottle and in every sense of the word it’s a month of celebration.

There’s a reason why all the best flower-shows happen in May and that’s because there’s more in flower now than any other month. The pansies and viola are still flowering their socks off and the first of the summer blooms, the early roses, foxgloves and honeysuckle are opening up to the sunshine.

The beauty of May isn’t just about the looking - hardy annuals, vegetables sown now will crop this year, dahlias and tender types planted out in the border will flower by the summer holidays and repairs and changes will quickly grow in and look like they’ve been there forever.

Cornflowers are the ultimate cut and come again bloomsCornflowers are the ultimate cut and come again blooms

What to do now

There’s two ways of stopping top-heavy herbaceous plants from flopping over – one is to prop up with stakes, ideal for plants with spire-like flowers like lupins and delphiniums, the other is to do the Chelsea chop.

This chop is good for plants with multi-headed flowers like Michaelmas daisies and phlox. Use secateurs to trim back the tops of plants by one-third to encourage more and stouter stems to grow from the base. It delays flowering by a week or so but the upside is more blooms.

Now is the perfect time to plant tender types, like canna lilies, dahlias, hibiscus, abutilon and all those lovely exotics we can get away with in our milder South West climate as they have the whole summer ahead to establish.

Acclimatise greenhouse-sown plants to life outdoors by placing outside during the day so that life outdoors once planted comes as less of a shock. The list of veg to sow now is huge but it’s particularly good for South American crops such as sweetcorn, pumpkins and courgettes. From the start of May, sow straight into soil outdoors – just watch out for mice.

Don’t forget – anything planted at this time of year relies on you for its water until its roots have spread out into the soil. My tip is water well – it’s better to really soak it once a week than the little and often approach.

Plant of the month - Cornflowers:

Cornflowers, once a native flower of the field, are now a rare sight in the wild due to changes in farming practices, but can still be sown and grown in our gardens and are the ultimate cut and come again blooms.

It’s not only the traditional sky-blue petals than may break from the egg-shaped buds, depending on the variety white, pink and deep plum is also available. They happily sprout from seed in soil warmed by the spring sun in an open position.

Broadcast in a sunny border for a meadow effect or sow in rows by scraping a line in the soil about half an inch deep, filling with water and allow to soak away and then thinly scatter seed. Seeds sown now are fast to flower and lovely left where they are for the bees or cut and brought indoors for cottage-garden style vases.

More from Homes & Gardens

Thursday, November 22, 2018

We’ve spoken to the New Continental Hotel in Plymouth to find out why they think a weekend or city break in Devon is perfect for families, couples and everyone else!

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

NATALIE MILLAR-PARTRIDGE relaxes at a family-run Dartmoor retreat where the emphasis is on the glorious environment it sits in

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Ex-Chelsea footballer Colin Lee came home to Devon and built an incredible multi-million pound waterside house. CHRISSY HARRIS takes a look around

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

As we head into Autumn, the change in season is all around us. From the leaves on the trees turning burnt orange and fiery red, to dark mornings and nights bookending our days. As we put the clocks back an hour to battle the darkness, here’s some top tips on how you can keep your home warm and costs down this Autumn.

Read more
Monday, September 17, 2018

Green, renewable sources of energy are becoming more and more popular for domestic use. We talk to Jay-Dee Williams at Energie about thermodynamic solar panels: the fuel efficient, cost-effective way to heat the water in your home

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fig Tree Court is a development of 14 apartments in Tiverton for retired and semi- retired over-55s with gorgeous views over the Grand Western Canal

Read more
Friday, August 31, 2018

Rural energy provider, Calor, gives some top tips for homeowners wanting to make their houses cosy and warm in time for the colder months.

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Converting a crumbling barn into a luxury bolthole takes some doing. Chrissy Harris went to see the results of an ambitious family project | Photos: Rob Coombe

Read more
Friday, August 3, 2018

From a hot tub Land Rover to a Romany caravan, Claire Saul picks out 7 Devon holiday lets that make hot topics for conversation

Read more
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Two former city dwellers have found peace, quiet and a stunning home in an East Devon village. CHRISSY HARRIS went to visit The Old Rectory in Plymtree

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

The redevelopment of some rural Devon barns has unearthed a very unique link with our greatest statesman

Read more
Sunday, July 1, 2018

Residential property company heylo recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging its commitment to fair treatment and support to the Armed Forces community, including regulars, reserves, veterans and their families. The signing took place in a ceremony held at Wellington Barracks

Read more
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A creative couple with a passion for nature took on a derelict farmhouse in North Devon and used it to inspire their life’s work. CHRISSY HARRIS went to find out more | Photos: Matt Austin

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The luxury tree top escape is nestled in the grounds of The Fox & Hounds Country Hotel in the North Devon countryside

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search