Now that frosts are behind us it's time to add a splash of vibrant colour to the garden with some summer bedding. Plant out pots and hanging baskets and fill any gaps in borders with pelargoniums (geraniums), petunias, busy lizzies, or whatever else you fancy. Make sure that you keep any containers you plant up well watered and give them a liquid feed once a week.
There's already tidying up to do too. Cut back or pull away bulb foliage as it dies down and take the secateurs to clumps of spring-flowering perennials, such as pulmonarias and perennial cornflowers, to encourage a new flush of leaves and possibly flowers as well. Weeds will be romping away by now, so hoe on a warm, dry day, when the weeds that you disturb should shrivel up in the sun. While you're out among the plants, watch out for aphids on soft new shoots. If you do this regularly you can keep numbers down by simply squashing any you see between your fingers, so having gloves handy is a good idea! Many shrubs are flowering a little late this year, but when deutzia, weigela and philadelphus have finished blooming, prune them into shape straight away to allow time for new growth to ripen and produce next year's display.
It's all systems go in the vegetable garden too. If you've raised heat-loving plants such as courgettes, squashes, sweetcorn and tomatoes indoors then gradually acclimatise them to conditions outside and plant them in their final positions. These crops, along with French and runner beans can also be sown straight into the soil outside now too. Plant out young cabbage, kale and broccoli plants, allowing space for them to grow into big plants. Don't forget to pinch out the tops of broad beans when in full flower to help prevent blackfly problems and concentrate the plants' efforts on those delicious beans. A huge range of crops can be sown now, so if you're just starting a veg plot this is a great time to get going. It's important to thin out seedlings as they come through, so check the seed packet for the correct spacing, and don't be afraid to pull weaker plants out to give those left room to flourish.
This article was first published in The Scotsman, Saturday June 5, 2010