May marks late autumn and the magnificent colours that we see in the trees that are about to go dormant for the winter. Most deciduous trees are losing their leaves during this month.

While the trees that still carry leaves are often very colourful such as Golden Elms, Liquidambars and Claret ash one good autumn wind blow, steady rain or a frost will remove the remaining colour from the garden.

It is the time to enjoy the autumn colours on trees and shrubs, colour of the crab apples and remaining berries on trees before the birds take them.

Read more: Gareth Carter: Time for a garden makeover
Gareth Carter: Time to plant winter vegetables
Gareth Carter Gardening: Christmas is coming, get your strawberry plants under way


Mother's day is celebrated on Sunday and some of the most loved gifts are plants. Here are some great choices that are available:

Cyclamen are a great flowering gift, they can be grown both outdoors and indoors. They are naturally a cool- loving plant which initiates the flowering to start in Autumn.

They can be kept inside for a while, although they do not like a hot stuffy room they will flower and perform for a couple of months before it becomes preferable to plant them outside or place in a cool room with good air circulation and plenty of light.

When watering, take the plant to the water, not the other way round. If possible allow water to soak through the bottom of the pot by placing in a sink, bowl, or saucer and add water. When complete allow to drain before returning to its location.

Chrysanthemums are another potted flowering plant for indoors and also grow well outdoors.

They prefer it coolish rather than warm and stuffy and are best watered the same way as for cyclamen.

Chrysanthemums give great value because once the indoor pot plant types have finished flowering you can trim them right down to almost ground level and plant outside where they will give you another flowering display next season, but will grow taller.

Most commercially grown houseplant chrysanthemums are sprayed with a suppressant to keep them dwarf and compact but most eventually grow out of these effects.


Phalaenopsis Orchid are the worlds number 1 selling houseplant.

Sold in flower they will continue with their flowering for another incredible 6-8 months.

As soon the flowers drop, the stem can be trimmed to highest node below the finished flower.

Often this will stimulate another flower stem to develop from this point in the stem.

Following another 4-6 months of flowering the stem should be completely removed.

In the following subsequent 6 -10 months a new flower stem should develop and the process starts again. To ensure flowering success these orchids should be fed weekly to fortnightly with liquid orchid fertiliser.

Houseplant ferns, the maidenhair (or Adiantum) and ladder or Boston fern (Nephrolepsis) are some green options. These ferns need coolness also and to be kept just moist, not wet.


Ferns tolerate less light situations and need to be kept away from draughts.

Along with cyclamen and chrysanthemums they benefit from a monthly weak application of a houseplant liquid fertiliser at half strength such as Phostrogen, Thrive, Nitrosol or similar during their growing seasons.

Pink or White Daphne are a popular gift for mum too. They produce highly fragrant heads of flowers from winter to early spring. It is best grown in light shade in a cool position that receives morning sun in acid soil and protected from wind.

Feed Daphne lightly in the spring with acid fertiliser to encourage strong new growth. This plant is hardy and grows about 1m x 1m.

Have a great week!

Gareth Carter is General Manager of Springvale Garden Centre.