April always brings my annual visit to The Memory Café in Colyton which I absolutely love doing. There is something so therapeutic about pushing your hands into compost, that lovely sweet smell and the joy of bringing on a plant. Indeed, Monty Don maintains that gardening saved his life! We had great fun potting up violas and then gift-wrapping them for the ladies and gents to take home with them. A beautiful thing to brighten up a dull windowsill, lots of happy faces (and not just on the violas!). They also feed me with tea and cake, and cake is always good! They are a lovely group of volunteers who work tirelessly to provide some much-needed fun and social interaction, and I am sure they would welcome new helpers with open arms. My thanks also to everyone who made me so very welcome and for helping with the activity after my probably all too brief demonstration!

A couple of top tips for this month … this one I passed onto the Memory Café. Keep your fingernails clean when gardening by scraping them along a bar of soap. This stops compost or soil getting into your nails, and when you wash your hands at the end of the day, the soap washes away leaving them lovely and clean. This tip was passed to me from the Memory Café … deep clean your hands by rubbing with a mixture of oil (can be vegetable or olive) and sugar. Leaves your hands feeling incredibly soft and the sugar scrubs off the dirt!

Anyone for Tea?

Now then … we all have in our families that one person (or persons) for whom it’s nearly impossible to find the perfect present? We may have the answer for you in our new Afternoon Tea Vouchers. Please ask for more information from one of our lovely ‘Ladies in Pink’ in the Café. Alternatively, we also now have Café Vouchers which can be redeemed for anything from our menu. Don’t forget that our menu features a wide range of gluten free cakes and light lunches!Our next Roast Lunch is on Sunday 6th May when we will be serving up Roast Loin of Pork with all the trimmings, followed by Treacle Sponge or Fruit Salad for the all inclusive price of £10.95.
I would advise early booking to avoid disappointment as these are becoming popular now and seating is limited.

So … here we are in May already, but with the atrocious weather we have had recently everything in the garden is very behind. Don’t worry too much though as nature has a wonderful way of catching up eventually and we will all soon be inundated with too many courgettes and runner beans!

As ever there is much to get on with in the garden this month …


  • Water plants that need it regularly, especially tomatoes and cucumbers inside, and runner beans to encourage flowers to set. If it turns really dry, you may have to consider a light mist of water to help those little flowers turn into beans. Growing sweet peas among the beans will encourage the bees and other pollinators to visit with the added bonus that you get flowers as well!
  • If clipping hedges ensure that there are no birds nesting within. Let the chicks fledge first if possible, and don’t forget the parents will be feeding madly on all those unwanted insects in the garden!
  • Protect young plants from slugs, preferably with a killer that will not harm wildlife (look for the Soil Association logo, or on our Ecoeffective stand with chemical-free controls). Remember that ‘less is more’ when it comes to slug pellets, a light scatter is all that is needed. You will need to repeat if we get heavy rain.
  • Re-pot water plants with aquatic fertiliser.
  • Feed pond fish regularly.
  • Feed, weed and mow lawns to encourage good growth. Remember not to compost grass clippings after you have used weedkiller.
  • Cover plants with horticultural fleece whenever night frosts are forecast (yes, even in May!!)
  • Cut back spring-flowering shrubs that have finished flowering.
  • Clip Clematis Montana after flowering.
  • Trim box and other formal hedging to maintain shape.
  • Tender shrubs, such as Acers, in pots can be moved outside for summer.
  • Divide and cut back spring-flowering perennials.
  • Plant out dahlias at the end of the month, or when risk of frost is over.
  • Clear out spring bedding.
  • Harden off summer bedding plants.
  • Thin out annuals sown earlier.
  • Thin out vegetables sown earlier.
  • Sow and plant out tender vegetables later this month.
  • Protect crops from carrot fly with a light cover, or grow onions or leeks in between the rows. The fly doesn’t like the smell and the added height helps them to fly over the top and away. You can also try rosemary or sage, and chives work well too.
  • Continue successional sowing of vegetables.


  • Finish planting evergreen shrubs. Remember to continue to water freshly planted shrubs.


  • Sow biennials for next year’s spring bedding plants such as foxgloves, stocks, hollyhocks, primulas.
  • Inspect plants regularly for signs of pests and diseases, and nip potential problems in the bud!!