The threat of hard frosts is past in early May so I can start moving half hardy plants from the greenhouse. This is the time that a coldframe is invaluable as it is a halfway house between the greenhouse and the garden. I have a large wooden coldframe which is now full of last years cuttings (pentstemon, abutilon, fuchsia etc.) which will be planted out in late May.

In early May I finish cutting back the borderline hardy shrubs and take out any that have not survived the winter. The abutilons are the most vulnerable so I try to let these grow as big as possible and only trim back the dead ends of the branches. Pentstemon, fuchsias and phygelius are cut back almost to ground level.

As I have now converted the garden to perennial planting I do not have to clear out spring bedding plants and plant summer annuals each year. This is a great bonus as although summer annuals are very colourful it used to take a large amount of time to get the beds sorted out. In late May I make up a few hanging baskets and tubs to give some extra colour in the summer garden. For these I buy in trailing petunias, impatiens, begonias and lobelia and add to these some of my own plants taken from cuttings last year.

For the small vegetable patch I have sown lettuce, parsnips, spring onions in modules and I plant these out in mid May.


Lilac is at its best in May. It only has a brief flowering season but is worth waiting for.

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