From the potting bench in May

Move over spring, summer is on the way! And Adam Kirtland is here to help you make the best summer garden you’ve ever had

I’ve talked before in the past about those pesky awkward months of the year that we’re in right now – it’s the end of spring, the bulbs are fading and disappearing for another year, but summer isn’t quite here just yet. But it’s not all that far away at all and with a little time, some muddy fingers, and a trip to the garden centre, you too could have the best summer garden you’ve ever had. Thankfully, I’ve got three top jobs to keep you busy in your garden, which will take you headfirst into the season ahead of us.

Don’t dilly-dally on dahlias

If you follow me over on Instagram (@viewfromthepottingbench) then you’ll appreciate my adoration for dahlias and the abundance of colour they give to every garden. Regardless of the size or the space you have and whether you have lengthy borders or just a couple of pots, there is a dahlia for every situation.
You have heard stories that dahlias are difficult, but nothing could be further from the truth with a little bit of know-how and insider knowledge! Your dahlia journey for this year may have already begun and you might have potted up your tubers months ago and they could even be in the ground by now, but fear not – you haven’t missed out just yet.
If you pop to your local garden centre (and thankfully we have plenty around the wider city) right now you’re likely to still find some ‘potted dahlias’ that you can buy and safely plant straight out into your gardens with very little chance of any further frosts nipping at them. Your options might be slightly more limited than they would have been a few weeks ago, but you should still have plenty to choose from in a wide range of colours and styles.

Fill up your gardens

If you do happen to have a large garden, or even just a slim border – those established perennial plants that you’ve had for years or you planted out last year, will be well into their new growth by now and you’ll be able to see where they’re growing and any space you might have left to fill.
I often find that I still have gaps between plants, even though we’ve been in this garden for a number of years now and that’s alright by me, as it gives me a chance to try some new things that I’ve not tried before. If you’re canny about it then you can try a wide range of annual plants that will grow, flower and then die all within this growing season, so if you like them you can grow them again next year or if you don’t, then there’s no worry of them coming back again for 2025.
By buying seeds and sowing them directly in the ground now, you’ll still have plants with bountiful flowers through summer without any of the faff of having to sow them indoors earlier in the year – so a win-win! My go-to annuals will always be Cosmos and you’ll be surprised by just how many there are on offer either online or in garden centres.

Swap spring or summer

And finally, if you’ve got pots and containers then by now those spring flowering bedding plants that you planted up in winter will be looking raggedy and a bit tired. But you guessed it… another trip to the garden centre is in order!
While you’re there looking for your potted dahlias, you’ll be met with swathes upon swathes of trays and pots of a kaleidoscope range of colours, all ready to plant up at home! Bedding plants, if this is your first time with them, are generally fairly short-lived plants that are perfect for containers that will add immediate colour to your garden.
Some summer favourites of mine are Bacopa, Calibrachoa and Bidens, and they’ll flower all summer long, before you’ll want to take them out to replace with winter bedding (but more on that in winter!) Do yourself a favour this year and plant even just two of three pots full of bedding and you’ll be oh-so-glad you did.

Follow Adam on Instagram @viewfromthepottingbench and listen to his podcast Tales from The Potting Bench for more gardening inspiration. You can also read Adam’s blog at