In the garden

PUBLISHED: 15:56 14 May 2014 | UPDATED: 15:56 14 May 2014

Marigolds, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

Marigolds, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

Archant

Joy is in the air - and in the garden this month, writes Cornwall Life’s horticultural expert Paul Prové

Paul Prové is a horticultural specialist primarily involved with maintaining gardens. He has experience in many 
areas of horticulture (including retail, commercial and amenity) and specialises in garden design and landscaping projects. Oak Gardening Services
01726 252153 / 07789 007979 paulprove@sky.com

It’s a time of year when there is much joy and anticipation in watching plants develop. There are however, gardening activities that give almost instant pleasure. 
When I was a lot younger and offered to help in the garden I hated being given jobs like weeding; they nearly put me off gardening permanently. I remembered this the other day while working my way along a border, deciding which of the self-seeded plants deserved to stay. Dandelions and grass departed without hesitation. Rocket, forget-me-nots and honesty were allowed to stay. When I finished and stood back to examine the overall effect I had one of those moments of instant satisfaction. There are a number of other jobs that can produce the same feeling of well being; mowing the lawn or trimming a hedge come to mind. Anticipation may be fun but we are now coming to the season where results dominate. Spring started in March, but it is in May that the garden really begins to take off. There is still a small risk of frost damaging young tender plants, but now is the time when our appetite for producing spectacular results in a short time takes over. The great thing about annuals is that they mature quickly and give a fantastic show of colour during the summer months. Remember they have to fit a whole lifetime into less than one year so give them the chance and they will reward your efforts. The secret for success is a well-prepared fertile home (be it flower border, patio container or hanging basket). Annuals want to grow quickly so the compost/soil should allow their roots to penetrate easily, it should be able to hold moisture for the plants without being waterlogged and it should hold adequate quantities of nutrients for the plants to thrive. If the soil in your borders is compacted or consists of heavy clay you must open it up with organic compost and coarse grit. All plants respond to the addition of fertilisers, but remember that young plants, like babies, need less feeding than teenagers. In the flower borders good preparation should yield excellent results. In the more artificial environment of containers supplementary feeding is essential, especially when (as is usually the case) a lot of plants have been crammed in to a small space. There are many good fertilisers like Miracle-Gro available, which need to be applied regularly. Alternatively there are resin-coated slow release fertilisers, which slowly dissolve through the growing season when mixed into the compost.

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