May Newsletter

The cheerful vibrancy of yellow daffodils has given way to the softer white, pink and lilac colours of tree blossom and of course the wonderful green of fresh new leaves. Spring has well and truly sprung.

The 92-page bumper Dobies Summer Catalogue 2018 has also sprung and amongst other things includes:

– Bedding plants from £1 a pot in a range of sizes, including 9cm and 2-litre
– Super-sized perennials for colour year-on-year
– Perfect perennials in 2-lotre pots
– A new range of Mediterranean plots – patio perfection
– Grafted 9cm potted veg plants
– Fruit trees and plants
– Plus loads more, including an Outdoor Living 28-page pull-out special

If you don’t already have a copy of this free catalogue, then order one online and we’ll rush one to you.

  • Many veg seeds can be sown direct, with supports having been put in place first for climbing varieties such as beans
  • Keep earthing up those potatoes. As the shoots show just gently hoe some soil over them to act as a dark blanket
  • Remember that your plants need bees and try to include as many pollinating plants as possible
  • Vine weevil is your major enemy this month so consider using Nemasys Vine Weevil Killer or prepare to spend your evenings outside, picking them off by hand.
  • For more May jobs read on to see what was happening in a 1906 cottage garden.

May 1906 – In a Cottage Garden

Gardening is dictated by nature rather than by fashion and so is slow to change. Looking at a Dobies catalogue dating from May 1906 the advice has changed little from today. So, for all cottage gardeners and fruit and veg lovers, here’s an excerpt:

“In training roses, honeysuckles, jasmines, wisterias &c over the cottage walls see that a wreath or branch is bent round the window frame so as to set it in green leaves or sweet flowers during the summer. A branch of a grape vine may often be trained into a sort of triumphal arch round cottage windows. Such small matters indicate taste, a love of the beautiful and the ornamental which costs nothing and affords much pleasure.

Flower borders will be beautiful in May with polyanthus, primroses, violets, &c. Nowhere do we find such daisies, so fat and fine, as in cottagers’ gardens. Virginian stocks and other flowers will also be bursting into bloom and somewhere ten-week stocks, asters, marigolds and zinnias will be coming on, to complete the tale of cottage garden beauty later in the season.  Borders and beds are also without weed, spot or litter.

The fruit trees on the cottage and outhouse walls have set a fine crop. Attend to disbudding the shoots and thinning the fruit towards the end of the month, bearing in mind that one large fruit fetches more to sell and is more profitable for home use than three small ones. Keep the birds off the gooseberries, they often suddenly clear the fruit if not watched and scared.

Plant out ridge cucumbers at the end of the month. Earth up early potatoes, peas and beans.

Make another sowing of hardy annuals, they will be found very useful at the end of the season. Thin and transplant the annuals sown last month.”

This month we’re talking MasterChef!

We were thrilled to see Beetroot Rouge Crapaudine take to the limelight as eventual MasterChef winner Kenny Tutt created beetroot steaks slow cooked in beef fat. Part of a signature dish at the Tommy Banks Michelin restaurant in Yorkshire, this unique and scrumptious beetroot took centre stage.

Although it may seem new and exciting, Beetroot Rouge Crapaudine is in fact the oldest variety still around. But my goodness it is suddenly very popular!

Thanks to MasterChef the seed packets have been flying off the shelves here at Dobies, meaning that some customers have been kept waiting for longer than desired. We apologise for this but confirm that fresh seed will be with us shortly and we aim to despatch all orders on 18th May. That gives plenty of time for planting and for anticipating munching on delicious beetroot steaks.

Hardening Off

When the sun starts to shine the temptation is to whizz all indoor grown plants outside and get them in the ground. This is fine but do make sure they are fully hardened off first.

The shock of going straight from a nice warm pot to a hole in the ground can give plants such a fright that they simply put the brakes on and stop growing. So, introduce them to the outside slowly, over a 10-day period.

If you have a cold frame then first keep the plants there, with the lid down. Then open it up for a few hours each day, gradually getting longer until finally you leave it open overnight. Your plants will then be tough and brave enough for the big outside world.


Beautiful though they are, Dahlias can be high maintenance in terms of keeping the taller varieties upright and under control. With this in mind, Dobies has launched a new range for 2018 – Dahlia Labella Maggiore. These are shorter than normal plants but with the same exhibition quality blooms in spectacularly bright colours. Flowering earlier than other dahlias this variety is also perfect for cutting and enjoying indoors.

Available in a choice of 5 glorious colours, Dahlia Labella Maggiore come in 2-litre pots and will be delivered from June onwards.

It’s Show Time!

Malvern Show to be exact. This spring festival runs form 10th to 13th May 2018 and promises to be a delightful mix of flowers, food, crafts and family fun. Find out more here.

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