IT'S THE WEEKEND: The month of May is show time

MAY is a marvellous month - the garden is blooming, plants are beginning to flower and show their true colours and it’s Chelsea Flower Show (May 20-24). We may not all have award winning gardens, but our outside space is beginning to come into its own again - to be enjoyed and experienced by friends and family.

Beds and borders are beginning to fill out and have definition again, and early colour comes from the popular pelargonium, commonly known as geranium.

So long as they have a bit of sun, they can be grown pretty much anywhere, as pelargonium fan Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE describes.

“When I see pelargonium my heart sings with joy," she said. They are one of my favourite plants and they are such an easy patio plant to grow. They also look great in flower beds and window boxes and are very versatile.

“I particularly love the vibrant flower colours that look stunning against their dark green foliage. Their scents are irresistible and fill the air with hints of rose, lemon, mint, fruit, nut, and spice. When they are in full flower they are spectacular and amazingly beautiful. Every year I can't wait for summer to arrive when my patio is full of large tubs overflowing with dozens of pretty pelargoniums”.

Pelargoniums flower from spring right through to late autumn. If you protect them from frost during the winter months they will continue to thrive for many years.There are seven different types of pelargonium – Angel, Decorative, Ivy-Leaved, Regal, Species, Scented Leaf and Unique.

They also come in different varieties such as upright, trailing, climbing, ivy-leaf, 'balcon', rosebud and dwarf.

Great to grow in pots - pelargoniums are very easy and simple to look after so ideal for novice gardeners.

If you go down to your local garden centre or nursery they can give you planting tips as part of the nationwide ‘It Starts with a Pot’ campaign running through the summer to encourage everyone to give gardening a go.

May is one of the most exciting months in the gardening year. Growth is well under way and watering and weeding are both key, as is sowing and planting out, depending on regional weather. It’s also the month to get back into the swing of mowing the lawn. Here are some top jobs for this month from the Royal Horticultural Society and National Garden Gift Vouchers:

1. Watch out for late frosts and protect tender plants.

2. Liquid feed containers every two to four weeks.

3. Plant out summer bedding.

4. Collect rainwater and look at ways to recycle water for irrigation.

5. Regularly weed.

6. Open greenhouse vents and doors on warm days.

7. Mow lawns weekly.

8. Sweet peas need training and tying in to their supports.

9. Watch out for greenfly and black spot on roses.

10. Plant hanging baskets.

We have a £100 gift voucher to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, just tell us how many different types of pelargonium there are - a) 7; b) 700; c) 7,000. Send your answer, name, address and contact details on a postcard to National Garden Competition, Editor’s PA, South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP20 3QN or you can enter by text. Start your message with NATGAR, leave a space and then send your answer, name and address to 80360. Messages cost 50p plus your normal operator text charge. Service provided by Newsquest Media Group. Terms and Conditions at www.southwalesargus.co.uk/competitions. Closing date: 18th May.

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