Spring Time in the Garden: Tips for May

Our Royal Pavilion Garden Manager Robert has some more tips for the budding gardeners among us: 

  • Watch out for late frosts and protect tender plants.
  • Plant out summer bedding at the end of the month. Plant out Dahlia tubers and Cannas after risk of frost.
  • As part of a lockdown routine, water early and late to get most out of your water, recycle water too. Then have a drink yourself!
  • Prune spring shrubs eg Forsythia and Chaenomeles after flowering.
  • Apply liquid feed to tulips and other spring bulbs to encourage a good display next year.
  • Check Lilies for scarlet lily beetle and remove.
Dahlia © Lee Ismail
tulips © Lee Ismail
tulips closeup © Lee Ismail
lily © Lee Ismail
lily beetle © Lee Ismail

If you cannot obtain plants, substitute with seed you already have or buy online. I have just sown directly into pots, Nasturtiums, Nigella (love in the mist), Calendula, Californian poppy, night scented stock.

Likewise you could sow directly into window boxes. Spinach, Rocket, Coriander, Basil, Parsley and Chives.

sweet rocket © Lee Ismail

As an alternative to plants and seeds for the garden, why not try summer flowering bulbs to liven up your garden and pots etc. You can order now online from bulb specialists such as Bloms Blubs or Van Tubergen.

Here are a few suggestions for pots, baskets and window boxes:

Sparaxis (wonderful range of colours).

Freesias (Scent).

Ixias (African corn lily).


Gladioli Nanus mxd.

Begonia © Lee Ismail

For borders and beds:


Gladioli Byzantinus (a great favourite of Gertrude Jekyll).




Local garden centre for compost.

Crocosmia lucifer in bloom © Lee Ismail
Crocosmia lucifer © Lee Ismail
dahlia in bloom © Lee Ismail
day lily © Lee Ismail
gladioli © Ismail Zulkifli

 Wash down with a huge Gin and tonic!

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Robert at work in the Royal Pavilion Garden


Robert Hill-Snook, Garden Manager, Lee Ismail, Curator of Natural Sciences 

4 Responses

  1. Leslie Holland

    Thank you Robert for keeping going during the lockdown.
    I have also continued to garden at All Saints`, Hove.

    We both need to have our gardens in good condition for a return to the “new normality”.

  2. Jacqui Rush

    Hi Robert. Thanks for all the pics and tips.
    Several years ago I came across you clearing out the spent Forget-Me-Nots and you very kindly gave me a black bag full. I’m happy to say they are still going strong……
    I can’t wait to get back out into town and the beautiful Pavilion Gardens.
    Wishing you all the very best

  3. Mike Jones

    Hello from MIKE JONES; who wrote a book on the Pavilion Gardens (Set for a King) and is self isolating and gardenig at home like mad! I’m pleased to see you are still promoting the Pavilion Gardens and trying to engage with the public and keep them interested. BUT I was horrified to see Robert referred to as a “manager”! He is more than that; he is the Head Gardener. As you should know any garden of merit has a Head Gardener, who is professionally trained in all aspects of horticulture. Anyone can be a manager. An important element: our claim to fame at the Pavilion are the special plants, all introduced before1830, that comprise the garden and their “Regency” disposition. Sorry to moan on but your photographs were disappointing too; gladioli in a bland vase, begonia and swathes of striped tulips, do not appear at the Pavilion. Why not promote the period plants and flowers you do have? Very disappointed, Mike.

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