May is one of my favourite months of the year, signs of Summer everywhere, the days are warmer & longer and there are more flowers in bloom. Summer bedding plants are available from shops and garden centres now and, if you have grown your own you will be anxious to get them planted out, both to make space in the greenhouse and to reduce the amount of time spent watering and feeding. Jobs to get on with this month, hanging baskets; we all like them, the secret to great basket displays is to use a good quality compost adding some slow release fertiliser and water retaining crystals. You should make sure you plant around the sides of the baskets, as this will give more impact and do not forget to keep dead heading for a continuous display. Harden off half-hardy plants during the day for about a week before planting out. Also dahlias & cannas will need the same and then only plant out when all risk of frost has passed. It is still not too late to divide herbaceous perennials to improve their vigour and create new plants. Do not be tempted to tie up or cut down the foliage of Spring flowering bulbs, let them die back naturally. Penstemens, cut out all old shoots to the base, provided there is new growth there, if not just cut above the lowest set of leaves. Take cuttings of fuchsia and geraniums, the new shoots of hardy perennials can also be used for cuttings. Take cuttings of shrubby herbs such as sage and lemon verbena. Prune out overcrowded & dead stems of early flowering clematis, C. Alpina, C. Cirrhosa, C. Armandii. Tie in climbing & rambling roses, laying stems horizontal, this will produce more flowers. Look out for blackspot this can be treated with a systemic fungicide. In the veg., garden harvest early rhubarb, picking no more than one third of the stems. Thin out direct sown vegetables such as spinach, carrot & lettuce seedlings, after thinning water well. Plant brassicas & leeks in their final positions, pinch out the growing point of broad beans as soon as beans start to appear at the base of the plant to reduce the risk of blackfly attack. Now is a good time to build the supports for runner beans. In the fruit garden; surround strawberries with straw to protect the fruit. Keep young trees well watered while they are now putting on rapid growth. Regularly check gooseberry bushes for greenfly and gooseberry sawfly caterpillars, they will quickly skeletonise the leaves if not removed. In the greenhouse; continue pricking out & potting on seedlings and cuttings. Plant out tomatoes in borders, growbags or pots. Damp down your greenhouse on hot days to increase humidity & deter red spider mites. Hang fly traps throughout to trap white fly, thrips and other pests. Finally your lawn, now is a great time to apply lawn weed killer and apply a high nitrogen fertiliser to encourage healthy green growth. It might be a lovely month but there is an awful lot to do, but always leave some time just to sit and enjoy your garden with a cup of tea or a G & T!