Time to get busy in the garden this month

PUBLISHED: 14:16 03 May 2016 | UPDATED: 14:16 03 May 2016

Lithodora diffusa Heavenly Blue

Lithodora diffusa Heavenly Blue

Keith Clouting

Plant specialise Keith Clouting of Taverham Nursery Centre brings you his guide to getting the best out of your garden

May is one of the busiest months in the garden but also one of the most rewarding. With all the lush, fresh new growth and the birds singing, it’s a joy to be out in the garden.

A plant which has caught my eye for several weeks now is Loropetalum chinensis var. rubra Fire Dance. This lesser known member of the witch hazel family deserves to be more widely grown. It has the same spider-like flowers as hamamelis but in a bold pink which goes well with the deep purple evergreen leaves. Its new growth is also attractive - pinkie-plum in colour, this is carried throughout the winter and can be scorched by severe frosts, but is easily trimmed back and will usually reshoot well. Because of this, Loropetalum are best planted in a sheltered site in humus-rich neutral to acid soil.

They also look good if trained against a wall which gives added protection against the cold. If a suitable position is not available, they make an excellent container plant which allows them to be moved into a cold greenhouse or conservatory in severe weather.

Lithodora diffusa Heavenly Blue is also at its best now, in spring and early summer this stunning carpeting plant is covered with a mass of vivid blue flowers with the show lasting several weeks, they thrive in humus-rich, well-drained, acidic soil in full sun or partial shade. After flowering is over, trim back the foliage to maintain a compact plant and encourage fresh new growth.

Before planting out bedding plants, harden them off for a week by putting them outside during the day & bringing in for protection if cold nights are forecast. Pheromone traps can be hung in apple trees from now until August to help reduce codling moth damage. Apply shading to greenhouses to prevent overheating during sunny days. Feed with a slow release fertiliser and top dress with new compost any permanent pot plants.

Taverham Nursery Centre, Fir Covert Road, Taverham, Norwich, NR8 6HT; 
01603 860522

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