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Topical Tips for May 2019

May is a fabulous month, blossom showering the gardens and roads around London with the lightest breeze, tulips looking at their absolute best and new flowers bursting forth every day, what could be better? It’s also the Chelsea Flower Show this month and as usual we will be there at the  Barlow Tyrie stand, do drop by and say hello if you are lucky enough to be visiting the show.

It’s going to be a busy yet entirely enjoyable month in the garden, so read on.

Flowers & Shrubs

Top Tip: Now is the time to choose your bedding plants, (if you are new to gardening, bedding plants are annual plants that generally last for one season only and are then disposed of or composted hopefully, during the season they flower profusely and provide nonstop colour). You do need to be a little bit careful of late frosts but May is usually frost free in London.

We have bedding plants to suit all gardens, dry and sunny or shady and wet there’s a colourful plant waiting for you at Sunshine!

A few tips for buying bedding plants:

- Look for ones that are green and bushy with plenty of flower buds, rather than open blooms.
- Dig over the ground before you plant, removing any weeds.
- Give the bedding plants a thorough soak with water and then plant them at the distance recommended on the label.
- Keep an eye on the weather and cover with fleece if frost is forecast.
- Water them with Tomorite – it encourages flowering

Top Tip: As we said last month a little bit of time spent keeping the beds weed free will pay dividends later on in the year.

Top Tip: Clear away any burgeoning weeds, it’s best to weed when the weather is dry as the severed weeds will dry up and die, a great tool for weeding is the Wolf swoe, part of the multi change system, it almost makes weeding a pleasure.

Top Tip:
  If you keep your tulips from one year to the next make sure you deadhead them so as to avoid energy being put into seed formation rather than into reserves in the bulb.

Top Tip: Fiona, our bulb curator, still has a good selection of summer flowering bulbs, don’t miss this opportunity of providing some amazing mid-summer colour, lilies, for example, are really easy to grow, last a long time and can fragrance a whole garden.

Top Tip: Make sure all your tools are clean and nice and sharp; we regularly have Pro Sharp, our knife sharpener man in a van at Sunshine to carry out all your sharpening requirements, ask in store for details of the next visit.

Top Tip:  Plant a hanging basket, just click below to see how it’s done, if that seems a bit too much then just come in and choose a readymade model or ask Pete to help you choose some plants and he’ll do the hard work for you!


Top Tip:  Spring flowering shrubs that have finished flowering will need a prune now to encourage strong growth for next year’s flowers.

Top Tip:  Don’t forget to water shrubs like Rhododendrons and Camellias that have finished flowering as it is this time of year that the buds begin to form for next year’s flowers.

Top Tip:  A lot of plants, especially foliage plants including ferns do most of their year’s growth this month so it is particularly important that they are all well watered to ensure maximum growth. 

Top Tip: Ensure that your perennials are adequately supported, use herbaceous supports that can grow with the plant, we stock Peacock herbaceous supports which are brilliant:

News update: Peacock have produced herbaceous supports in a rusty finish – very on trend for this year

Pesky Pests update:  There are a couple of pest lurking round the corner that we need to inform you of.

- Slugs & Snails; we have slug pellets which contain a chemical that is not harmful to children and pets and other vertebrates

We also have various deterrents which don’t even harm the slugs but just create a barrier that slugs don’t like to cross, these can be quite effective but you may need to use quite large volumes – a good choice if you want to go to heaven or are worried that you may come back as a slug!

Come in and see us to see the range of molluscicides (posh word for snail and slug killers) and we’ll give you the best product for your situation.

- Box tree caterpillars feed within webbing and can completely defoliate box plants. It is a relatively new insect to Britain. Whilst the adult moth was first reported in the UK in 2008, caterpillars were not found in private gardens until 2011, it has since become widespread in London and surrounding areas.

Gardeners are likely to become aware of box tree caterpillar when they find webbing and caterpillars on box plants.

Non chemical control

Where practical, caterpillars should be removed by hand

  • A pheromone trap which can help monitor adult moth activity is available from Sunshine

Chemical Control

  • Extensive infestations can be treated with an insecticide. Thorough spray coverage is required if control is to be achieved

  • Forceful spraying is needed to penetrate silk webbing

  • The contact pyrethroid insecticides pyrethrum (considered organic e.g. Bug Clear Gun for Fruit and Veg,), deltamethrin (e.g. Provado Ultimate Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer.

  • The systemic neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra) can also be used

  • Plants in flower should not be sprayed due to the danger to pollinating insects

    Top Tip:  Give evergreen hedges a trim e.g. Buxus or Yew, remembering to make the bottom wider than the top  for good light penetration to the base.

    Check for nesting birds first!

    Top Tip:   Mow your lawn regularly ideally once a week, if you think the lawn needs greening up or has too many weeds and moss then use evergreen 4 in 1 which will green up the lawn, kill the weeds and moss.

    Top Tip:  If you would like to re turf your lawn or just patch it up we are getting turf in every weekend if there is sufficient demand, it is £4.99 per roll which covers. 1 mtr2. Just give us a call to reserve some turf, when you get it home lay it ASAP as it will suffer if left rolled up.

    Grow Your Own

    Top Tip: Straw for Strawberries, need I say more? it prevents weeds, retains moisture and prevents mud splash on the fruit.

    Top Tip:  Cover the emerging shoots of potatoes with soil. Doing this helps to prevent light reaching the tubers. If they're exposed to light, they turn green because of an increase in chlorophyll, which makes them have a high level of glycoalkaloids toxins. 

    Top Tip:  Make the most of the space in your veg garden by sowing quick-growing crops, such as salads, between longer-term residents, such as brassicas, while they're establishing.

    Top Tip: Loads of veg can be sown outside now or you can cheat a little bit and by purchasing seedling veg from us in strips, we’ve got some unusual ones this year such as kohl rabi and gourds, well worth a try!

    Top Tip: Buy small pots of herbs now, they are good value and much stronger plants in better compost than those that can be bought at the supermarkets.

    Top Tip: Don’t let your rhubarb flower; it will weaken the plant, cut flower stems off at the base.

    Top Tip: Black fly always feast on the young growth of Broad beans, either squash them by hand or spray with a mild insecticide.

    Top Tip:  Try sowing regular batches of leafy salad crops such as lettuces and lollo rosso etc. or try quick root crops such as radish.

    Final reminder: If you didn’t mulch last month , do it now, we recommend Farmyard Manure, it feeds & conditions the soil and is on offer at the moment for £12 for 3 bags – no bull!