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Garden tips May

There’s some confusion over whether it was World Naked Gardening Day last Saturday, or this one coming. Either way,  I won’t personally be pulling weeds in the buff, if you’re planning to tend your flowers as nature intended then you’ll need to remember suncream as the sun is scheduled to shine this weekend!
You should know by now that I’m no Dimmock, so this month’s garden tips come courtesy of Neil Bennett, head gardener at the Tregothnan Gardens, near Truro. The Tregothnan peeps have persevered in pioneering botanical firsts since 1334! In 2005, they began supplying England’s first and only home grown tea creating inimitable Britishness. As well as growing English tea the diversity of the estate affords the production of sustainable coppiced charcoal, and even Cornish Manuka and wildflower honeys.
Lawn love
Choose a dry day and mow your lawn. Then mow once a week if you can. Feed lawns with a spring and summer high nitrogen granular or liquid feed to get good lush growth as well as mowing regularly. Lawns will eventually deplete the nutrients in the soil, and when they do so they start to look a bit wan and sorry for themselves.
NB: You can make your own homegrown feed by digging up and rotting down your dandelions. Dandelions are rich in phosphorus, the nutrient that feeds and develops roots, and lawns want good roots above all. Thankfully dandelions are goldenly conspicuous at this moment (not just Muddy Cornwall then – phew!). Chopped up in a little water, they will slowly start to rot down – just as comfrey or nettles do – and will make a particularly phosphate-rich fertiliser that can be watered on in a month or two’s time.
Lift and divide bulbs
Prune spring flowering shrubs that have finished flowering. Once the leaves have turned yellow and ropey, they’ve had their day and can be cut down. Lift and divide overcrowded bulbs such as narcissus.
Transition over-wintered plants
Any tender plants in pots that have been inside over winter can be now moved outside – but keep an eye out for late frosts. Typically, plants that are over-wintered indoors tend to stretch to the necessary light source. When the plants are transitioned back outdoors a light shearing.
Keep on top of spraying before weeds take hold. Apply liquid weed killers in calm conditions to minimise the drift of the solution onto wanted plants. Application to the leaves results in weed killer moving up to the growing points and down to the root tips. Hoe once a week to stop seeds settling.
Late Frosts
Watch out for late frosts, especially in regard to tender plants in the garden. Only plant out perennials that can stand a little frost. Once this risk has passed, you can plant up and put out summer bedding.
Fancy yourself as a tea buff? Sign up for the Tregothnan tea school – a masterclass in everything tea, hosted in their own teabar. They also offer bee keeping workshops and even edible flower bouquets – yes bouquets you can eat! Sprinkle them on cakes and salads while fresh, or dry them and use them later.
Tregothnan, Truro, TR2 4AJ  T: 01872 520000

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Cornwall