Swifts flying over rooftops

May gardening tips

The white blossom of hawthorn hedges mean spring is here.

What you might see

As supplies of nuts and berries dwindle, visiting and resident birds alike need good weather to generate fresh food in the form of insects and other small animals.

If you live near woodland, you might spot flycatchers, which arrive in May and leave in September. They perch in trees and fly upwards to catch insects in flight. If you have fruit trees, you might see a bullfinch that has been tempted in by the fruit buds.

Gardening in May

May is one of the busiest months for the vegetable and flower grower. Even the non-gardeners among us can be spurred into action by a spell of sunny weather. Now is a good time to prepare beds for planting by digging them over, weeding and adding compost.

Garden centres will be full of bedding plants, but as an alternative, consider planting perennial flowers, which will come back year after year. A good way of bringing a bit of countryside into the garden is to get pot-grown wild flowers, which are now more widely available. Your local Wildlife Trust may sell a supply grown from seed of local origin.

Jobs for the month

  • Plant evergreen hedges and keep them well watered
  • Plant container-grown shrubs
  • Plant herbaceous plants
  • Trim back winter-flowering heathers
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia after they have flowered
  • Make hanging baskets
  • Sow hardy annuals
  • Plant herbs sold in pots
  • Sow vegetable crops outdoors including salad crops, peas and cabbages
  • When all threat of frost has passed, plant out tomatoes and courgettes in grow bags    
 RSPB's Flatford Wildlife Garden, Suffolk, England