Peter’s Gardening Tips for May

Is this the ‘Merrie month of May?’ I really hope so, although this is truly a troublesome Springtime.

Snow, frost, wind and rain with you in the north of England, Ireland and Scotland and near drought conditions in the South-East of England….

Don’t worry lovely weather is on it’s way- honestly!

The flushes of fresh leaves especially on the trees are divine, bluebells, blossom on trees, bird song fills the senses. Up north the trees are only just leafing!

‘‘And after April, when May follows, and the white -throat builds, and all the swallows – Hark!!
Where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent sprays edge – That’s the wise thrush, he sings each song
twice over, lest you should think he never could recapture, the first fine careless rapture! ‘’




What to do now

Tackle what you can and in whatever order suits you!

  • Re sow if germination of vegetables has been patchy or non-existent, quite often later sown crops have a habit of catching up!
  • Potatoes if you haven’t planted any it’s not too late. Many garden centres are selling them off half-price along with onions/shallots.
  • Plant courgette seeds, pumpkins, squash, runner and climbing beans but put somewhere warm and protected to germinate. Greenhouse/windowsill these are tender seedlings and cold sensitive.
  • Sow salad crops every three weeks to give a continuous supply.
  • Dead head daffodils, tulips, feed and allow to die off naturally.
  • Blind daffodils – lots this year due to wet cold August last year. Feed now with Bulb Booster, or Bone Meal. Lift and divide in July/August and replant if you haven’t got hundreds.
  • Sharpen mower blade if your grass cut looks ragged on the edges.
  • Tie in fresh new growth of climbing plants, Roses and Clematis.
  • Put in plant supports for herbaceous plants to encourage bushy, later flowering plants (Chelsea Chop), do it this month.
  • Feeding important for any plants in containers, fruit trees and bushes.
  • Prune Camellias after flowering to keep a neat shaped plant.
  • Prune any shrubs that have finished flowering as the month goes on – Forsythia, Viburnums, Rhododendrons.
  • Weeds – remove when you see them!
  • Seed sowing of wildflowers. Any spare bare earth in a sunny position is worth sprinkling some seeds on to encourage bees, butterflies, hoverflies in your garden or allotment.
  • Thin out vegetable seedlings.


Dawn Chorus – International Dawn Chorus Day is the first weekend of the month. Check out

IDCD on-line for events close to you. Open your ears to something truly special – get to recognise which bird is making which sound and why. Find out about some of the smallest birds which fly 3000 miles just to breed here before flying back to South Africa!

Hedgehog Awareness Week

Hedgehog Awareness Week

Hedgehog Awareness Week – 3-9th May 2015.

Our garden friendly hedgehogs are in Serious trouble, see what you can do to help. The population has dropped from 30 million to approximately 1 million!

Wildlife Aid in Surrey check out ‘Harry the Hedgehog’. –

Support your local wildlife hospital wherever you live in this glorious country.

If we look after the bugs and beasties, the little critters will help look after us. The Great Circle of Life! We can’t live without them!



Observation of Spring, first Oak leaves, Swallows, Orange-tip Butterflies, the website is up and running for all your sightings. Back on BBC 2 25/5/15.

Whatever you do, make time to stop, look and listen. Watch the extraordinary life of nature going on around us.

Yesterday I saw a Blue tit having a fight with a Nuthatch, which was protecting its nest hole in an Oak tree. They both fell to the ground in a whirling mass of feathers, and the Bluetit won!

Visit gardens open with the National Garden Scheme, and National Trust Gardens. There is nothing better than doing some ‘horticultural espionage’ followed by tea and cake!

Enjoy- whatever the weather the wonderful spectacle of Spring . Don’t miss out on the Rhododendrons and Azaleas……….


Happy Gardening everybody!


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Peter Mills

I love everything to do with natural history, wildlife, biodiversity and of course horticulture - basically the big outdoors. I grew up with very good teachers namely my parents and my French grandfather who was a superb grower of vegetables. At Hadlow College I studied a three year OND in Horticulture. I had a market stall selling plants. Went onto wholesaling house plants to florists and garden centres across southern England. In 1986 I joined Clandon Park Garden Centre as manager. Whilst there I started my career as a gardening radio presenter with the BBC Southern Counties Radio. This continued for 15 years, building up valuable contacts with the RHS Wisley, live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows etc. Since 1998 I have been self-employed, working as a Head Gardener and in private gardens . Through the RHS Advisory Department at Wisley I advise on horticultural problems in members gardens, including pest & disease problems, lawn-care advice, pruning of wisterias, fruit trees, roses, wildlife gardening, growing fruit & vegetables, creating wildflower meadows, identifying plants and control of pernicious weeds. I am an extremely lucky guy who loves what I do and the trade called Horticulture!

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