Fruit trees need feeding again this month. If you can get 20.10.10 fertiliser then use one mugful for small trees and three mugsful for mature trees. This time round you may have to water the fertiliser in around the base area of the trees as there may be no rain to help you out. Watch out for signs of the Asiatic Citrus Leaf Miner Moth that may have laid its eggs inside the citrus leaves earlier and when hatched the grub quickly disfigures them by making tunnels inside. Keep an eye out also for greenfly and blackfly now and use a soapy water spray to get them off your plants. They will be on your roses for sure and sometimes attack the new foliage of citrus and prunus trees as well. There are several things on the market to try, but the best thing is to run your fingers, latex gloved of course, down the stems, but watch out for rose thorns!
May is certainly the month for roses in Cyprus. Village gardens are full of bright colour as they vie with each other to be the brightest and the best! Just along the road from me is a garden full of what are known here as ‘Hundred Petal’ roses, tightly petalled roses in a gorgeous pink which exude a wonderful perfume as you pass by. Their botanical name is Rosa × centifolia, but usually known the ‘Provence Rose’, ‘Cabbage Rose’ or ‘Rose de Mai’. This attractive pink rose was developed by Dutch breeders in the period between the 17th century and the 19th century, possibly earlier, and you thought that the Dutch only bred tulips!
Some figs, pomegranates and bay trees are particularly prone to throwing up suckers around their bases and if you let them grow they will weaken the tree. Remember that jacaranda trees will flower first if they have been deprived of water but if they have been watered or rained on regularly during the winter, they will burst into leaf before a single gorgeous flower cluster appears. They also grow extremely tall so think where you are going to plant them before you are tempted to buy one for your own garden.
Dead-head flowers regularly or they will set seed and stop sending up new flower buds. Some flowers like osteospermums droop when the sun goes in and if you dead head in the evening you may nip off viable flowers, so make that a morning job. Grey foliaged plants or those with felted reverses to their leaves such as gazanias and rosemarys are able to exist on minimum watering and in excessive heat, so are a good choice. I changed over my canna lilies to growing them in pots quite a few years ago now but attractive as they are, they do need regular watering to look anything coming as they do from tropical America. I grow more drought-tolerant tulbaghias from South Africa which are extremely popular plants these days and used frequently in urban plantings. Kniphofias, commonly known as ‘Red Hot Pokers’, are sometimes available with their torch-like flowers stems, although I did grow some from seed with bright yellow flower heads some years ago. One of my favourite summer plants is hemerocallis, or the ‘Day Lily’. It is a very popular plant in the USA and more varieties are being imported into Cyprus giving a better choice of shape and colour, other than the bright orange ones to be seen in cottage gardens here.